David Wright issued a statement Wednesday through the Mets Facebook page about the retirement announcement from Derek Jeter:
“I was fortunate as a young player in this town to be able to watch how Derek Jeter conducted himself on and off the field. I had the privilege to call Derek a teammate during the World Baseball Classic and got to see firsthand how to lead by example. I’ve always been a big Derek Jeter fan for what he has done on the baseball field. I became an even bigger fan after getting to know Derek and learning there is more to this game than what goes on between the lines. Excluding the Subway Series, I wish him all the best in his final season.”
Wright has often been called the “Derek Jeter of the Mets.” They are very different people and different players, but they do have many things in common. They are both leaders of their teams, and they both do so in quiet ways. Neither are “rah rah” type of players, instead preferring to lead through example. They both have always carried themselves with class and dignity, which is rare in today’s athletes.
Incidentally, I attended two pretty big games in Jeter’s career. Last season I was at his first game back, and in 2004 I was at the Yankees-Red Sox game in which he dove into the stands to make a catch, emerging bloody and bruised. We all walked out of the stadium knowing the game was an instant classic; in addition to Jeter’s catch, the Yankees came back to score two runs in the bottom of the 13th inning to win 5-4. As a Yankee hater, it really bothers me to say this but that game was the most exciting game I have ever seen in person. Yes, better than Dwight Gooden’s one-hitter.
I am kind of surprised Jeter made the announcement now. He seems like the type of low-key guy who would not want the “retirement tour,” who would not enjoy the circus that will surely now accompany him on his final stop in each city, just as Mariano Rivera endured in 2013. But if any player deserves the pomp and circumstance all season long, it is Derek Jeter.