There are so many heroes in this world. When I was growing up, my heroes ranged from my parents to Sandra Day O’Connor (as I became older). Then it was my brother as he fought leukemia. When I was always asked about my heroes, I can’t ever recall turning to fictitious characters, but I also can’t recall ever having a celebrity, be it athlete or actor, as my hero.
When my dad was growing up, heroes were the men and women who fought during World War II or the Joe DiMaggios and Hank Aarons of the world. Heroes were people who were strong and brave, people who fought for others, and people who did their job with a higher standard in mind. My husband and I have tried to instill the same beliefs in our sons where heroes are concerned. We ask that they not look to Thor or Captain America or Justin Bieber or anyone unreal or superficial. Heroes are few and far between these days, but there is still one left even if he is no longer a participant in his sport. That hero is Derek Jeter.
Derek Jeter is more than just a baseball player. Sure, his stats speak volumes. A .310 batting average. A .377 on base percentage. 3465 hits. 260 homeruns. 1311 RBIs. Clearly, this man was a hero to many on the baseball field, but it’s off the field that I’m excited about.
Derek Jeter played the sport with integrity. He is admired by many and respected by all. It’s very rare to hear about Derek Jeter outside of baseball, at least personally. In a day when so many young celebrities allow their newfound fame to tear them down, Derek Jeter practiced the lost arts of humility and grace. He created his Turn 2 Foundation to help youth steer clear of drug and alcohol use and to reward those with exemplary academic standards. He understands the value of community service.
My husband is a native New Yorker and for him there is no other team than the New York Yankees. He grew up a Yankee fan and can remember the stories of Babe Ruth and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. In his youth, my husband admired the likes of Bernie Williams, a mentor and teammate of Derek Jeter’s, so it was easy to transition to Derek Jeter as his all time favorite baseball player. Now, we have two young boys of our own and while I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan, I’ve come to have a certain level of love for the Yankees and Derek Jeter. I’m content to have my boys sporting their Derek Jeter jerseys. I’m happy my son has a “hero” like Derek Jeter to look up to. Davey’s even attempted to learn how to announce Derek Jeter’s name like Bob Sheppard.
It was sad in our house to watch Derek Jeter’s last All Star game, his last game in Yankee stadium, and his last game EVER at Fenway Park. We had lumps in our throats when we watched the Gatorade commercials. Our chests swelled with pride as we watched opposing teams tip their hats in respect to the 2nd ever Pride of the Yankees.
Davey watched one of Derek Jeter’s last games on television and at one point, he stood to hold 2 fingers in the air…a gesture of support and admiration for the one and only #2 of the New York Yankees. My husband is sad that we never took the opportunity to take Davey to NY this past summer to see Derek Jeter play. It worries him that there will never be another hero like Derek Jeter. For now, we’ve had Yankeeography: The Captain’s Collection, on replay in our house. Davey’s learned more than most other children about Derek Jeter.
So, from the Doser household we’d like to say:
“Thank you, Captain, for holding your head high, for playing the game with integrity, for maintaining a humble persona, for your charitable works, and for helping to shape the lives of so many. You will be missed.”