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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees celebrates after a game winning RBI hit in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles in his last game ever at Yankee Stadium on September 25, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

One year ago today: The Captain bids farewell

I remember like it was yesterday. My friends all planned on going to the bars, and I would have joined them….but I was not of age. More importantly, it was Derek Jeter‘s last home game as a Yankee. Baseball fans everywhere knew this game would be special. Nobody expected the game to end the way it did, however.

Me being 20, Derek Jeter was all I knew at shortstop for the Yankees. I didn’t know baseball without the Captain. It almost felt like I took him for granted; not only his fantastic play on the field, but also his character and kindness off the field. When I think of Derek Jeter, I think of his trademark throw from across his body while mid-air. I think of him diving headfirst into the stands to make a play, not caring about the physical pain that would follow. I also think of him being able to keep his hands back in the zone and slap the ball into right field. We were all reminded of that ability that night.

The Yankees were playing division rival Baltimore, and had just surrendered a three run lead. The game was tied at 5 in the bottom of the ninth inning when Derek Jeter stepped into the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium for the last time. It wasn’t a home run, nor was it hit very hard. It was simple, quiet, and well done. Typical Jeter. Antoan Richardson scored on the walk off hit from Jeter. The Yankees won, but the moment was bigger than just a victory over the Orioles.

The sold out Yankee Stadium crowd of 48,613 went berserk. Jeter was mobbed by his teammates on the field, and was greeted by former teammates Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte. And let’s not forget former manager Joe Torre. Jeter, known for his stoic expressions, couldn’t contain himself, and broke down. Not typical Jeter.

He thanked the crowd, walking around the stadium and waving to them. Of course, he stopped in the dirt at shortstop, and knelt down. The chills never left my body until I fell asleep that night. I woke up the next morning still not believing what I had seen. Jeter was gone, but he gave us two decades of sportmanship, five World Series rings, and was the right face for not only the city of New York, but all of Major League Baseball.

Derek Jeter wasn’t perfect, but he was as close to perfect as there could be. A year ago today, The Captain had bid his farewell. I sat on my uncomfortable college sofa, not able to blink, simply in awe. A new era was beginning, but none of us were ready to say goodbye. I like to think baseball fans everywhere were in the same position as me, sitting at a bar, or on their couch at home, completely amazed. He had done it again.

It’s only been a year, but once again, thank you, Derek Jeter. You gave us the perfect ending.