Twenty-two years later, Dick Groch knows as much as ever that he changed baseball when he found Derek Jeter.
The former Yankees scout (currently a Milwaukee Brewers special assistant) reflected on scouting Jeter last week just a day before the shortstop’s announcement that he would retire at the end of the 2014 season.
Groch wasn’t shy about the impact the five-time World Series winner and likely Hall of Famer has had on baseball.
“People tell me, ‘You signed a good player,” Groch said of scouting the young Kalamazoo, Mich., shortstop in 1992. “But, no — and I know I sound a little bit vain — I signed a franchise.”
Groch also signed Jeter’s agent, Casey Close. Groch said he’s kept in contact with Jeter and Close over the years.
“Last week I sent Casey an email,” Groch said via MLB.com. “And I said, ‘Case, best to the captain. Tell him to take it easy through spring training. Be sure that he’s ready to play.'”
In 2009, Groch recalled Jeter’s early signs of stardom, telling the New York Daily News that a love for the game “emanated from him.” Groch has compared Jeter’s legendary status to that of Babe Ruth. He is fully aware of the impact the “marquee player” has had on the New York Yankees and all of MLB.
His opinion hasn’t changed, even if the praise he heaps on Jeter is a way to keep slapping himself on the back.