In addition to deciding home-field advantage for the World Series, Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis will serve as an extended, national celebration of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who will retire at the end of the season. (It’s gotta be better than Monday’s Home Run Derby.)
Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. has some idea of the reception that awaits Jeter. In 2001, Major League Baseball feted Ripken and the late Tony Gwynn at the All-Star Game in Seattle after both players announced they would retire after the season.
Ripken, who was playing in his 19th All-Star Game, received a standing ovation from the crowd when he came to the plate for the first time in the third inning. He then drilled Chan Ho Park’s first pitch into the visitor’s bullpen for a home run.
“I’ve had some special moments in baseball that I will always cherish and hold onto, this being one of them,” Ripken said after the game. “When [the home run] went out . . . I actually felt like I was fast for the first time in my career. When you feel the moment and the electricity, the magic from the moment, that’s everything.”
On Tuesday morning, Cal Ripken joined ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” and was asked about Jeter’s propensity for rising to the occasion as he did so often during his career.
“Derek has the ability to calm himself in the biggest clutch moments, in the playoffs where you absolutely need a hit,” said Ripken, whose postseason numbers pale in comparison to Jeter’s, but who homered the nights he tied and broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record. “It almost seems like he’s playing a Sunday afternoon game in the back yard with all the kids. I think it’s a calming moment that says, OK, I’ve been here before, I’ve felt this feeling before. Let me just stay where I am so I give myself the best chance to perform.”
Ripken was also asked what he expects from Jeter tonight.
“The sport seems to be much more of a form of entertainment even now since I’m out,” Ripken said. “Some of the things that they’re planning and they’re talking about, it’s really cool stuff. It’s a high-level form of entertainment. I don’ t know what’s going to happen. I’m kind of curious to see. They’re going to bring tribute to him in many different ways tonight. I’m sure the ideas are going to be really good. I’m sure that he doesn’t want to go through that. He’s a humble person, but some way he’s going to handle it the right way. I suspect that once the game starts, we’re going to see something pretty cool from him.”