Yankees’ Jeter back where it started in Seattle
SEATTLE (AP) — Derek Jeter’s professional debut came in the old concrete Kingdome. After going 0 for 5 on that May night 19 years ago, Jeter and his father tried to find some late night dinner in Seattle.
The only place they could find open: McDonalds.
“He’s here again today, both of my parents,” Jeter said on Tuesday night. “Maybe we’ll go to McDonalds.”
Unlike other stops on his final tour around the majors, Seattle has a special place for the New York Yankees shortstop because this is where it all started. His first hit came a day after his debut, May 30, 1995, when he singled off Seattle starter Tim Belcher.
Seattle’s pregame ceremony to honor Jeter featured current stars Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez, and past standouts Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner. Jeter was presented with a chair from the Kingdome, a framed base from Safeco Field, a watch with an inscription from Cano — his former teammate — and a donation to his foundation.
Jeter is one of 12 active players to have played in the Kingdome and Safeco Field in his career. He enters his final trip to the Pacific Northwest a career .299 hitter in Seattle in 80 regular-season games.
“This is where I played my first game so every time I come here that’s the memory that comes to mind first,” Jeter said. “This is where it all began. It’s been quite some time but I’ve always enjoyed coming to Seattle.”
Seattle goes beyond just where Jeter got his start. He traveled with the team during the 1995 ALDS when New York lost to the Mariners in five, a victory that went a long way toward securing baseball’s future in Seattle. There were also playoff meetings in 2000 and 2001, both in the ALCS and both times the Yankees denying Seattle a spot in the World Series.
“I’m sure everyone has said everything you possibly could say about Derek Jeter. For me, for the last 20 years Derek Jeter he’s been everything that is right about the game of baseball,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I think he’s a class act.”
Aside from being in Seattle, this trip could potentially be the last time Jeter competes against Cano, who is third in the American League in batting with a .330 average in his first season with Seattle. After these three games the only other chance for their paths to cross would be the All-Star Game in Minneapolis or the postseason.
“Anytime you play with someone for that period of time it’s a little odd,” Jeter said. “It’s good to see him. We have a lot of memories together.”