Even those donning Boston Red Sox uniforms have great admiration for New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Jeter announced Wednesday that he plans to retire after the 2014 season. The news kicked off a lovefest in which everyone and their grandmother praised the Yankees captain, and Red Sox players in Fort Myers, Fla., were no different Thursday.
“He’s as down to earth as it gets,” Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz told ESPN.com’s Gordon Edes. “For someone to be captain of that team and that franchise for as long as he was there, and being able to keep everything on an even keel and do everything as a professional, it’s something that’s pretty special.
“He was always really personable to me. That’s something I’ll never forget.’’
Buchholz also acknowledged Thursday that he grew up “idolizing” Jeter, and Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava recalled a time in 2010 when the Yankees shortstop congratulated him for reaching the majors. First baseman Mike Napoli said he believes Jeter is the perfect player for every rookie to emulate upon reaching The Show.
“Just the way he went about his business,” Napoli told Edes. “He played for a big-market team, won five championships, came to the park every day and everything he did seemed to be the right way. The way he handled himself, the way he worked, a leader — sad to see him go.”
The Red Sox’s praise is unsurprising given the legacy that Jeter has carved out over his last 19 years in pinstripes. As Buchholz put it Thursday, there doesn’t appear to be anyone in baseball with a bad thing to say about Jeter.
“I figure it’s going to be pretty special,” Buchholz said of Jeter’s upcoming farewell tour. “I don’t think there was anyone in the game who disliked him. He’ll get the best of everything in every park, which is what he deserves, for the numbers he put up.
“He said he knows what he’s doing, this is the right decision for him. I wish the best of luck to him.”
Jeter will walk away from the game with at least five World Series rings and 13 All-Star selections. But perhaps more importantly, he’ll leave having garnered the respect of those he played with and those who played against him.
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