While it has been a downer of a year for Texas Rangers fans, the New York Yankees coming to DFW always seems to add a little buzz to the steamy summer nights at the ballpark. Even though the Yankees are currently in third place in the American League East, their only visit of this season to DFW was certainly one to remember.
Last year saw the final visit to town for the greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera and this trip was the farewell tour for legendary Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. As Jeter closes the door on his illustrious 20-year career, every team has paid tribute to one of the most popular players in Major League Baseball history in what will be his final visit to each stadium.
The entire series had larger than average crowds highlighted by the sell-out crowd of 46,599 for Wednesday night's game where the Rangers took their turn to honor Jeter prior to the game. Former Rangers shortstop Michael Young and former Rangers catcher -- and one-time teammate of Jeter's with the Yankees -- Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez joined the five-time World Series champion at home plate 20 minutes before the first pitch to present him with a $10,000 check for his Turn 2 Foundation from the Rangers. Like Rivera last year, Jeter was also given a pair of custom-made Lucchese Italian goat-leather cowboy boots that were stitched with his name and the interlocking 'NY" Yankees’ logo.
Former President George W. Bush, who in addition to being a former owner of the Rangers, has a history with Jeter dating back to 2001. Following a video on the huge board above the right field porch that showed Bush getting some advice from Jeter before throwing out the first pitch in Yankee Stadium during the World Series, the former president took the field in Arlington to huge cheers. He presented Jeter with a signed and framed photo from the two of them in the batting cages prior to that World Series game.
Walking around the ballpark after the ceremony, it was really cool to see and hear how many fans were well aware that they were in the presence of greatness much like seeing Michael Jordan in the NBA, Tiger Woods in a PGA Tour event and Wayne Gretzky in his NHL days from Edmonton to the New York Rangers. There was just something special about those experiences that often times is not realized until it is too late. Golf fans in DFW took for granted that Tiger would be in Las Colinas every May until he missed the cut, Byron Nelson passed away and he has never returned. There was no advance warning that Woods would never be back, but for this week, DFW fans knew this their last glimpse of Mr. November.
I have been fortunate enough to see Jeter play dozens of times over the years. Many times the Yankees pounded the Rangers, but a few times, including when former Rangers MVP Alex Rodriguez struck out looking to send Texas to its first World Series, the Rangers came out on top.
The Rangers added to the good memories by taking this series with a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night after splitting the first two games. By the way, Jeter went 0-for-4 on the evening and was cheered all night long.
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