The date has been set: All Start shortstop Derek Jeter will play his final game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, September 25 against the Baltimore Orioles (that is: unless the Yankees put on a late charge and, somehow, make the playoffs). Long known as the “House that Ruth Built”, pundits of Yankee Stadium should add the addendum: “And the House that Jeter Maintained”.
When “Number Two” walks off the baseball field for the final time in 2014, his legacy will be, among other accomplishments, as someone who played his ENTIRE career with just one team. There are currently only seven players with at least ten years’ experience that have played their entire career with one team. The Philadelphia Phillies lead the way with three: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins. The others are: Justin Verlander (Detroit), Yadier Molina (St. Louis), Felix Hernandez (Seattle), Ryan Zimmerman (Washington) and Joe Mauer (Minnesota). Surprisingly, only one of those seven players, Molina, has a World Series ring.
Now, there are a couple of players out there who have played with their current teams for several years but they also played with other teams. David Ortiz has played 12 years with Boston but not many remember that he started out with the Minnesota Twins, playing with them for six years. Paul Konerko, who is also retiring this year, has been with the Chicago White Sox for 16 years but had brief cups of coffee with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati.
In this day and age of free agency, playing an entire career with one major league team, is a dying art…dare I say: an almost extinct art! Some players have even played with several teams IN ONE SEASON! Take the case of Jayson Nix, utility infielder. He began 2014 with the Tampa Bay Rays. After being released, Nix was signed by the Phillies and played 19 games with them. He was released again and signed back by the Rays and played 55 games with their AAA affiliate, Durham. Nix then went to Pittsburgh for 16 games and is now with the Kansas City Royals. Sure hope Nix is signed up from a frequent flyer program!
There is not much doubt that Jeter will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2019; in fact, some believe that he could be a unanimous selection. Of course, those voters who have ties to the Boston Red Sox may not vote for Jeter just to spite their long-term foe. If they do, the should be identified and flogged in a public setting!