During Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium more than five years ago, all the way up until the final magical moment, highlights of Jeter’s career played on the jumbotron in the Bronx. Between nearly every inning, there was consistently loud applause from the fans in attendance for what was an unforgettable night.
Of course, when your career spans 20 years and includes five World Series championships, there is plenty of content to include in the highlight reel, so why not milk it for all it’s worth? After all, what Jeter was a part of, especially in his prime years when a Yankee championship felt like a foregone conclusion, will be incredibly difficult to ever be replicated again.
But as the buzz of Jeter’s Hall of Fame election subsides, and the wait begins for his induction this summer, it really feels like this coming July will be the final formal platform for Jeter and the dynasty he was a part of to be honored and remembered, and the time is approaching for that door to close.
The years of 1996-2001 created plenty of heroes, expected and unexpected ones, and nearly all of them have had received plenty of deserved recognition. We’ve seen Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill enter Momument Park. We’ve seen Joe Torre, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams and Jeter all have their number retired. Torre, Rivera and now Jeter made their way into Cooperstown. Rivera was honored with another special day in the Bronx to commemorate his Hall of Fame induction, and there have been anniversary celebrations at the Stadium for the 1996 and 1998 teams. Such a historic run warrants historic remembrance, but eventually, the avenues of acknowledgement run dry, and all that is left is memory. We’re fast approaching that reality.
Of course, the memory itself isn’t a bad thing. Personally, there will still be random evenings after work where an innocent Twitter scroll turns into an hour-long YouTube wormhole of highlights that include the Jim Leyritz home run or the Flip Play and endless moments that defined an era and my childhood. In terms of saving up to go to this retirement ceremony or taking off work for that induction however, those events seem to be coming to an end with the last core member of that dynasty to retire, and that’s Jeter.
Yes, Andy Pettitte is still on the ballot, but it’s looking more and more like he will fall short of Cooperstown, barring a Larry Walker-esque surge in percentages that get him in on the final year of eligibility. Maybe the Yankees will host a day at the park to honor Jeter’s induction, and that will be another day filled with career highlights on Twitter as well. For now, it’s safe to assume that after the end of July, when the weekend is filled with replays of the flip, the dive, the final home game and all the other wonderful memories, that era of Yankee dominance will be securely placed in the archives. Fortunately, today’s Yankees are a hell of a lot of fun to watch themselves, so it’s time for some new unforgettable moments.