What was it like being in Cooperstown for Derek Jeter’s induction ceremony? ESNY was there!
Editor’s Note: Michael Vivalo had the honor of being on the ground at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for this week’s induction ceremony. Here is his story from a day all Yankees fans will remember forever.
A sea of pinstriped number 2 jerseys filled the great lawn at Clark Sports Center as people from all walks of life came to pay their Re2pects to Derek Jeter on Wednesday, September 8th 2021.
“It’s more than just a game” – Truer words have never been spoken, as Derek Jeter closed out his Hall of Fame Induction speech in front of a packed house in Cooperstown, NY.
Thousands of fans made the trip to The Baseball Hall of Fame, not to celebrate a player who just played a game, but to honor a man who embodied professionalism, competitive spirit, hard work and leadership.
I was lucky enough to be on hand for this occasion and document the day for Elite Sports New York.
Walking around Cooperstown on Induction Day is magical. It feels like you are in the movie Field of Dreams. Plenty of Press and 38 Hall of Famers came out to honor Jeter, Ted Simmons, Larry Walker, and the late Marvin Miller. While there were three other inductees, it was obvious that the crowd was really there for one guy, Numba 2.
In addition to his family and the Hall of Fame baseball players in attendance, Jeter brought out other famous friends, including Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Gerald Williams, Andruw Jones, CC Sabathia, Luis Sojo, Jorge Posada, Alfonso Soriano, Ahmad Rashaad, Patrick Ewing, and Michael Jordan.
Sure there were a bunch of famous faces on hand, but Jeter’s real impact could be found out on the lawn with the masses.
After talking with countless fans, you realize that Jeter touched a massive amount of people, which comes when you play the way he did and for the same team for 20 years.
I counted no less than 17 “Der-ek Je-ter” chants.
I met a couple from Cooperstown, I met a couple from Alaska.
I met Mothers who loved Derek from his early years and Daughters who loved him for his later years.
I met Grandfathers, Fathers, and Sons who all have different reasons to admire The Captain.
I met an 89-year-old man who remembered Babe Ruth and I met a 7-month-old baby.
I met a Marine Captain who stood at attention for the National Anthem played by Bernie Williams while his 2-year-old son played nearby.
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I met an 11-year-old boy born on November 4th 2009 — the day the Yankees beat the Phillies to clinch their 27th World Series and Jeter’s 5th ring.
I met a kid named Derek who was proudly wearing a shirt that said “I was named after you.” His father was wearing a shirt that said, “My son was named after you” and his sister was wearing a shirt that said, “My brother was named after you”.
It is more than just a game.
In the end, Jeter gave us a flawless speech, telling stories of sitting next to Jackie Robinsons’ wife Rachel and the time Hank Aaron wanted to meet him. He thanked everyone who helped him along his journey and cracked a joke about the one baseball writer who left him off the ballot.
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His message for today’s players: “The game goes on, and it goes on because of the great fans we have. So take care of it, protect it, respect it, don’t take the time you have to play for granted.”
And thus closes the career of the great Derek Sanderson Jeter, an icon for so many fans and a brilliant baseball player. In 1992 Yankees scout Dick Groch was asked if Jeter might pass on pro ball to go to the University of Michigan. Groch replied, “He’s not going to Michigan, the only place he’s going is Cooperstown.”
He nailed it.
So from all of us who have been touched by Jeter – Thank you Derek, it’s been a hell of a ride.