Derek Jeter has been showered with all sorts of extravagant, one-of-a-kind gifts during his final visits to major league cities in this, the 20th and final year of his Hall of Fame career. The White Sox gave the Yankees shortstop a bench made of bats. The Twins gave him the last second base used at the Metrodome. The A’s presented him a personalized bottle of Napa wine.
The Yankees won’t make their final trip to Camden Yards until September, but Orioles Manager Buck Showalter already has an idea for a retirement gift for Jeter, and it’s a great one.
“I would give him a big picture of the home run,” Showalter told reporters Monday before Baltimore’s 11-3 win over the Yankees. “Well, it wasn’t a home run. We know that. That’s what I’d give him. A big picture and have the whole Baltimore Orioles team sign it. That’s a good idea. That’s cheap, too, right? Make it in bronze or something. Not that we remember that at all.”
Showalter was referring to Jeter’s controversial homer in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series against Baltimore — the home run that umpire Richie Garcia somehow didn’t rule fan interference.
Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco was prepared to catch Jeter’s eighth-inning flyball when 12-year-old Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier reached his glove over the wall, stuck out his tongue and turned an out into a game-tying home run. The Yankees would go on to win in 11 innings. Bronzed or not, a framed picture of this photo would look great above the pinstriped Gibson Les Paul guitar the Indians gave Jeter.
Maier was celebrated as a hero in New York and made the front page of the Post. I was 13 when this happened and taped the following day’s Sports section to my bedroom door. It remained there for several years, a yellowing reminder that sports are terrible and unfair and that I should always hate the Yankees.