Usually, the Yankees home opener is a joyous day for fans as they usher in a new season, but yesterday marked the beginning of something no fan wants to see — the end of Derek Jeter’s career.
The Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Orioles was merely the sideshow, as Jeter — who is retiring at season’s end — took the field for his final home opener in the Bronx.
“It’s Derek Jeter’s last opening day [at home] and I feel like an old man. I’ve been watching him since I was a kid,” said Patrick Mulroy, 26, of Astoria, as he left Yankee Stadium following the game.
Aside from the five World Series championships that he helped win, fans say Jeter brought a new sense of class to the team and to New York sports in general.
“You’ll never ever see a sportsman like Derek Jeter. You never hear him talk bad on the news. You never hear him say ‘I.’ He is a team player,” said Sal Sanchez, 45, from the Bronx.
The ceremonies were more special with the team’s “core four” taking part in throwing out the first pitch.
Seeing former pitchers Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, who both had their farewell seasons last year, throw the ceremonial first pitch to Jeter and former catcher Jorge Posada was a poignant moment for fans.
“It was amazing to see the fab four, the team the carried the Yankees through so many championships. It was a great opening day,” said Maria Montalvo, 60, of Chelsea.
Of course, the season’s merely a week old and fans will have plenty of chances to see Jeter’s final games. Retailers who specialize in pinstripe paraphernalia hope so.
Marc Wright, an assistant manager of Modell’s in Times Square, said the store will most likely begin selling Jeter farewell memorabilia soon and he expects it to be a hit.
“Maybe in a month or so it’ll pick up, just like when Mariano Rivera retired,” he said. “The later in the year we get, the bigger demand you’ll see.”