Forever A Fan
“Hi, I’m Derek.” This memory still shocks me every time I recall it. I was 15 years old, when I met Derek Jeter. He was (and still is) one of the most well-known athletes, and the celebrity crush of practically every female in New York and plenty more (like me) across the country. But with a smile on his face, he humbly reached out his hand to greet me as if he was a stranger on the street. And the only words I could utter back were, “I love you.”
It’s Throwback Thursday…
A high school friend had connections to Major League Baseball (MLB), the Orioles and Yankees specifically, and his family was gracious enough to set up my dream meet and greet in 2001. I played out the moment in my head hundreds of times. What I would say, how I would act – sure to get a photo and an autograph. Mainly telling myself to “be cool” and hoping I could somehow become Mrs. Derek Jeter. (Dream big, okay?) But all plans went out the window when he came walking towards me in the player’s tunnel after a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
I went total fangirl and lost my mind. Heart throbbing, hands shaking, ugly crying – complete and total freak-out – the living stereotype of meeting your celebrity crush.
When I think about it, I want to go back and smack my 15-year-old self! I never did get my photo, but I cherish my autographed MLB ball. Only made possible because Jeter saw my death grip on the thing and generously asked if I wanted him to sign it. To which I basically just nodded because words were not manageable.
For twenty seasons, Jeter made rooting for him effortless. He was a leader and a winner. He worked hard and played hard. Full of class both on and off the field. And well, he looked damn good in pinstripes.
"There's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do."
Two seasons later and I still have not fully accepted Jeter’s retirement. I miss the signature jump throws, fist pumps, and tips of the cap. Brad and I spent the entire month of September 2014 bidding farewell to my baseball hero (he scored major husband-in-training points for this). We were at Yankee Stadium for Derek Jeter Day on September 7, his final Sunday in the Bronx on September 21, and his last game at home on September 25. In between, we said goodbye in Baltimore (where I first said “hello”) during his final series against the Orioles on September 14.
Now, we will be in the crowd this Sunday, when his jersey number is forever retired in New York Yankees history and a plaque is added to Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.
If I could meet Derek Jeter again, I would simply say, “Thank you, No. 2.” But I would definitely still cry.