I had to do it.
There are moments in life that are bigger than us. Bigger than the games we watch and the money we spend. There are rare times when ‘at any cost’ is to be used. There are very few legitimate ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ events.
Derek Jeter’s last home game is one of them.
I bought two tickets. I had to. I have spent weeks debating how to handle Derek Jeter’s last game in Yankee Stadium and finally dove in.
I sat on my couch during the All-Star Game and watched as it turned into an early representation of what tonight will be. I got chills, shed tears, paced around the room, and refused to stare at the screen long enough to allow the emotion to destroy me.
“Did you expect him to play forever?” Of all the comments and questions shared after Derek Jeter announced his retirement prior to the ’14 season, none was more prevalent than this. The question carried its own power and weight. It was rhetorical – the answer was obvious and thus, not required. It was an attempt at comfort – surely, this day was inevitable.
It was devoid of emotion.
Anyone who knows me also knows that I am not one to remove emotion from any equation.
This is the man who helped me fall in love with baseball. This is the man who I, along with the rest of the New York Tri-State Area, wanted to emulate. This is Derek Jeter. I could not be watching from my couch when his time to say goodbye would arrive.
Even with that insistence, the sickening feeling that I could not go through this same feelings again, I failed to act. I waited, tossed ideas back and forth, and let the decision elude me. When Jeter’s final week of baseball arrived, I found it impossible to turn on the television and watch the train pull into its station.
So I wrote. I wrote my little tribute to the man who I have worshiped for my entire baseball-watching life, and almost my entire existence altogether. When I was nearly finished, I dug through the archives for something else. I pulled out what I had written in February when Jeter first announced his retirement.
Holding the two pieces side-by-side on my computer screen, I compared how I felt then to how I feel now. Nothing had changed. Suddenly, the work of two different versions of myself had combined for a piece that accurately depicted how I feel about my team’s Captain.
I merged the two documents, slicing sections that were repetitive with the help of a few editors. Keeping the emotion in tact as best as I could, I submitted it to XN Sports, where I am now contributing. It is probably the most emotional piece I will ever write outside of the times I document my feelings on Tina, Hayley, and any future little ones that may enter my life.
Immediately after completing the article days ago, I turned back to the other tabs open on my browser. StubHub. Ticketmaster Exchange. Yankee Seating Views.
I bought two tickets.
When the tears filled my eyes as I wrapped up my own personal Derek Jeter Tribute, I knew that I could not allow myself to regret this moment anymore. I told my dad that we would be splitting two tickets to the game, and that we would go to see Jeter bid farewell to the Bronx.
Hours later, we placed the order. I checked the weather before and after purchasing the tickets and, ironically, the “closest” we could have gotten to the field for what could have been considered a reasonable price left us under the overhang of upper deck. In a way, a stroke of good luck.
In reality, a sad reminder that rain is imminent. In fact, it’s not raining because of the weather patterns. It’s raining because I bought tickets to tonight’s game. Think this sounds egotistical? Consider the fact that my bachelor party – an awesome event in its own right – was a Yankee game. Which game? The one in which Derek Jeter would likely tally his 3,000th career hit. Instead, it rained.
Less than 24 hours later, Jeter got five hits and blew through the milestone. I wasn’t there.
I couldn’t let that happen again. Hopefully, Mother Nature agrees.
I believe the game will go on, albeit it may span more hours than I care to imagine. But I will be there. With my dad. Crying. It was, after all, with him that I would stay awake far past my bedtime in October of 1996 to watch the Yankees in the World Series.
It was, at that young age, that I learned the lesson of how important it is to not let a moment pass us by, regardless of the consequence. At that time, little sleep for a ten year old boy was considered a ‘major sacrifice.’
As soon as I had officially purchased the tickets, a sadness overcame me. Sure, I would be experiencing this game with my dad, but what about my daughter?
I take pride in putting Hayley to bed every night. In fact, it’s my favorite part of the day. Furthermore, I had spent two years explaining to Hayley that Derek Jeter was the greatest human on the planet. Tonight, I won’t be with her, neither to read her a bedtime story or watch the Captain take his final curtain call at Yankee Stadium.
I talked about this with my friend, and shared my concerns. Fitz, as he is lovingly referred to by all, reminded me of exactly why Hayley is the reason I should be going tonight, instead of avoiding it.
“You are showing your daughter that there are times when you need to be as good a son as you are a father.”
Taking it one step further, his words also carry a bigger lesson. Paraphrasing slightly, our conversation yielded the following conclusion: There are times when the moment trumps all else, and you need to acknowledge it at any cost.
The lesson learned on the phone hours after I purchased tickets to what would be an unforgettable night mirrored the exact theme shared in the late hours of October nights in 1996, whether with my dad, mom, or nanny and gramps – don’t miss the moments.
I will be there tonight, rain or… rain, I guess, and I will take in every memory. Hayley, I’m sorry you won’t be there, but understand that there are times when the moments move us.
After all, it’s what I learned through watching Derek Jeter play baseball with my father.
And it’s what I plan to pass down to you.