Heading into yesterday’s game against the Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees were 8.5 games behind the red hot Baltimore Orioles in the AL East and 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. With only 22 games left on the schedule, the Yankees’ hopes for the playoffs were dim. And that means Derek Jeter’s final season is getting closer to its end.
So the Yankees took time before Sunday’s matchup to honor the Captain. Special flags bearing Jeter’s number 2 flew over Yankee Stadium. Players wore special patches on their jerseys and hats. The bases were branded with the same logo. And a bunch of faces from baseball’s recent past — Hall of Famers like Cal Ripken Jr. and Joe Morgan and former teammates Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada and Paul O’Neil — joined Jeter on the field. Oh, and Michael Jordan was there, too.
The nearly hour-long celebration of Jeter’s career ended with a speech in which he thanked his family and friends, the Steinbrenner family, and, above all, the fans. "I've loved what I've done, I love what I do, but more importantly I love doing it for you," Jeter said. "From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much."
The Royals got the better of the Yankees yesterday, 2-0, putting New York’s playoff chances a little further out of reach. But it’s safe to say that the fans in attendance hardly minded. After all, they got a front-row seat to a once-in-a-lifetime event.
MLB has put together a six-minute video highlighting the biggest moments from yesterday’s celebration. They’ve also posted the full ceremony. So wether you missed it, or just want to relive it, here you go:
Highlights from Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium
The Full Derek Jeter Day Celebration:
Photos: Al Bello/Getty Images (celebration, flag), Elsa/Getty Images (base, Girardi)