Derek Jeter Will Always Connect Me To My Father
I'm not a huge sports fanatic.
I grew up around sports because of my family -- I played a little softball and basketball and I attended Yankee games.
I enjoyed sports the way most young girls enjoyed sports: to impress the boys at school or because you were surrounded by them.
I didn't have older brothers growing up, so the sole source of sports knowledge was from my dad, grandpas and uncles.
Everyone in my family was a sports fanatic -- Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Islanders, Rangers -- the true New Yorker state of mind when it comes to America's favorite pastimes.
When it comes to sports, I'm not passionate about a lot. The one thing I am passionate about is Derek Jeter.
I've always respected and loved him because of who he is as a player, as a professional and as a person.
Jeter joined the Yankees the year I was born (1992) and I grew up with him.
My dad was a huge Yankees fan, doing so much as getting the logo tatted on his leg when I was 11.
My basement had a wall dedicated to past Yankee greats, something the boys in my elementary school class loved to talk about.
My dad attended more World Series games than I can count, got into more fights at Yankee Stadium than I think he cared to remember and even took my sister, my little brother and I to the 2009 World Series parade.
I used to joke around saying my dad loved the Yankees more than he loved me. They were his passion, and Derek Jeter was at the core of it.
My dad idolized #2 in a lot of ways, and aside from a few old timers, Jeter was his favorite player by far. In the early 2000s, who wasn't obsessed with Derek Jeter?
I remember sitting on the couch, way past my bedtime, rooting for the Yankees with my dad.
He sat eating chips and drinking coke, cheering and screaming at the TV, and ultimately relishing in the win every time.
People have said nothing beats the late '90s Yankees. It's especially true for me, because nothing makes me feel the way Jeter does.
He was the epitome of my childhood.
I still get chills whenever I watch old clips and hear Bob Sheppard's voice announce Jeter up to bat, and seeing plays I remember watching live on TV, like the dive or the flip.
After my dad passed away in March, Jeter's importance to me has grown -- he's my connection to my dad now.
These days whenever I hear or see Jeter I'm suddenly moved to tears, because he symbolizes my childhood and the father I lost.
There's so much I can't put into words, but the Yankees and Jeter are my dad and vice-versa.
My dad was still alive when Jeter played his last game in 2014. He was alive to see the single RBI at Yankee Stadium. He watched when the Yankees' true rival, the Boston Red Sox, gave Jeter the sendoff he deserved at Fenway.
When I watched that game I cried, because it symbolized the end of an era for New York, for the game of baseball and for me.
I had just graduated college and was finding my way in the world. It was so powerful to watch this man, who symbolized so much for me and my generation, end his career as we were beginning ours.
It was so powerful to watch this man, who symbolized so much for me, end his career just as I began mine.
I can't say anything new about Jeter that hasn't already been said. He's one of the greatest players of our generation, and he's deserving of that title.
What I can say about him is how happy he made my dad and how many good memories and conversations my father and I shared because of him.
I'm so happy my dad got to see Jeter's last hit at Yankee Stadium, but I'm deeply saddened he won't see Jeter's #2 be retired at the House That Ruth Built on May 14, 2017.
On that day, I'll remember my dad and raise a cap to #2 because of everything he did for me, and for connecting me to the father I lost.