Jeter, who moved to Michigan with his family at four years old and later attended Kalamazoo Central High School, was given the local hero treatment by the Tigers in a very well-planned pregame ceremony — arguably the best in his honor all season — prior to Wednesday night's game.
Among those invited and present on the field with Jeter were his parents, sister and also the newest star in his family, his young nephew, Jalen.
Not only was Jalen proudly decked out in his uncle's No. 2 uniform and Yankees cap, he was apparently there to be seen and remembered, and remembered he shall be. As the Jeter family was being introduced to the fans, Jalen provided the cutest moment of the night by tipping his cap to the crowd after he was announced, just like Uncle Derek has done hundreds of times during his Hall of Fame career.
Hey, he's learned from one of the best. This early show of respect shouldn't be surprising at all. And really, his gesture, innocent as it was, gave the whole ceremony another layer of meaning as the Jeter family was allowed to come together and share in the moment.
But the good times didn't end there. Also in attendance were Jeter's former high school coach at Kalamazoo Central, Don Zomer, and summer-league coach, Mike Hinga, along with Tigers legends Willie Horton and Al Kaline. The presence of all cemented how important the night was to Jeter on a personal level and to the Tigers on a professional level.
They clearly wanted to do right by one of Michigan's greatest professional athletes, and believe us, they accomplished their goal with a touching video tribute and a series of gifts that were heartfelt and humbling.
Jeter was first presented with a $5,000 check as a donation to his Turn 2 Foundation by former Yankees teammates Joba Chamberlain and Phil Coke. Both are currently pitching for Detroit, but together with Jeter helped bring a world championship to New York in 2009, which was Jeter's fifth and perhaps final championship run.
Jeter also received two seats from Tiger Stadium, which is where he attended many games growing up and also played host to his first games in Michigan as a major leaguer in 1996. The stadium obviously holds great significance to him.
Jeter's third and final gift, which was presented by Tigers president Dave Dombrowski, was a series of watercolor paintings portraying him at three points of his career. The first showed him as a high-school player at Kalamazoo Central, playing at what is now Derek Jeter Field. The second showed him in his younger big league days playing at Tiger Stadium. The third featured Jeter making his trademark leaping throw from the hole at shortstop while playing at Comerica Park.
The gift was presented in one long frame and also included dirt taken from all three ballparks.
That alone is pretty cool. Any of the three gifts on their own would have been noteworthy. Together, though, it's an unbeatable package, and unbelievable sendoff for the Yankees' legend.
Very well done by the Tigers organization.
By the way, Jeter would show his appreciation by bookending New York's eight-run third inning with an RBI double and sacrifice fly. During that frame, the Yankees would record nine straight hits against David Price, three shy of the major league record.