As ‘Derek Jeter Week’ rolls on towards its climax for Sunday’s retirement ceremony at the Stadium, you can’t Google Yankees without The Captain popping up.
On the same day that Yankees legend Derek Jeter wrote a heartfelt thank you to the city of New York through his online publishing company, The Players Tribune — NJ Advance Media shed light on the notion that No. 2 was actually almost No. 19.
We’ve all heard the story by now, how Buck Showalter, who was the manager of the Yankees upon Jeter’s first taste of the big leagues back in 1995, convinced team owner Geroge Steinbrenner that the kid from Kalamazoo, MI was indeed worthy of one of the few remaining single digit numbers. (Tony Fernandez wore No. 6 at the time)
In a sit down with the YES Network’s Jack Curry, Jeter spoke about the sequence of events that unfolded during the spring of 1996, and how the club’s equipment manager at the time, Nick Priore, didn’t feel the highly touted rookie was worthy of the digit that fell between Billy Martin and Babe Ruth.
"“So going into spring training in 1996, they were going to give me No. 17,” Jeter told YES Network in a recent interview with Jack Curry. And then I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Nah, I’m going to stick with No. 2.’ It was a good choice on my part.”More from Yankees NewsAaron Judge’s influence on Carlos Rodón shows he’s more powerful than YankeesYankees sign 2022 Red Sox reliever, invite him to spring trainingYankees trade Lucas Luetge for 2 intriguing Braves prospects after DFANever forget Miguel Andújar wrecked Yankees’ Nolan Arenado tradeDiamondbacks outfielder’s comment on Carlos Rodón’s IG raises eyebrows"
According to Randy Miller of NJ.com, Jeter “misremembered,” as he was actually handed the No. 19 jersey — as described in the 2011 book, “The Captain,” by Ian O’Connor.
Priore, who was unimpressed with Jeter’s .250 BA in just 15 games in ’95, supposedly switched the number because of Robin Yount, who proudly wore No. 19 on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
The book describes the situation where assistant equipment manager Rob Cucuzza was ordered to place a No. 19 card above Jeter’s Spring Training locker.
Cucuzza said that Jeter soon came to him and pleaded to get his now famous No. 2 back — to which Cucuzza was surprised Jeter was so determined to wear.
Obviously, Jeter got his way, otherwise, Sunday’s dedication to the number two would be a tad different.
Jeter’s Farewell Letter
As if getting through this weekend’s historic event isn’t going to be hard enough for Yankee fans that grew up watching the majestic play of DJ2K, the five-time World Series Champion spoke from the heart in an online letter that can only be described as the man himself so often is — classy.
"New York, I want to tell you a story — about a kid who grew up in the Midwest, in a town called Kalamazoo. Quiet, unsure and at times a little intimidated. A homebody at heart. About a kid with a dream who moved to a big city — to the big city. A kid who was just trying to keep up with everyone else. A lot was asked of that kid. And I always respected the challenge to prove myself each and every day.The lights were always bright. The pace was always fast. The stakes were always high, and the expectations higher. And in those difficult moments — those moments that feel unique to New York — you always showed me a sign. All I had to do was look: It was a little girl’s tip of her cap, or a shout from across the street, or a rallying chant from the upper decks of Yankee Stadium that made its way down to the field. Or the support from teammates who taught me about the spirit of this city: That we’re all in this together, and we have to look out for one another.New York, I’ll never forget how you looked out for me. And throughout 20 years in pinstripes, I learned that despite the pace and the pressure, one code truly makes this city go: Get up each day, put on your uniform, go to work, do your best, and don’t make excuses. That’s all New York ever really asks for. And that’s what I tried to do.Thank you, New York, for asking a lot of me. For challenging me. For giving this kid a place to grow up. I wasn’t born a New Yorker — you asked me to earn it.I wasn’t born a Yankee, but you made me into one. Everyone comes to this city with dreams of being No. 1.You showed me that being No. 2 was more than enough. Today I’m no longer that kid. I’ve hung up my uniform, and I know this much for a fact: I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you. Because the truth is, no matter where you go in the world, when a place feels like home, as New York does to me, you never really leave.It will always be with you."
Dang it, I told myself I wasn’t going to cry!