NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Yankees retired Derek Jeter’s No. 2 jersey in a pregame ceremony Sunday.
The Yankees also unveiled a plaque in Monument Park honoring the five time World Series champion.
In a speech delivered before Sunday evening’s game, Jeter told a crowd of adoring fans “there isn’t a person or player I would trade places with that’s playing now or ever.”
Former teammates, managers. and other Yankee greats joined him on the field to celebrate his storied career.
“I want to thank you guys for pushing me, challenging me, making me accountable, and more importantly, embracing me from day one,” the former team captain said.
“It wasn’t just one thing,” former teammate and Yankees leader in career strikeouts Andy Pettite said. “He was the complete package.”
Jeter picked Mother’s Day for the ceremony, and his grandmother, parents, sister, nephew and pregnant wife joined him at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
Last week, Jeter posted an essay titled “Thank You, New York” on his Players’ Tribune website on Thursday. Jeter wrote about being “quiet, unsure and a little intimidated” coming to New York after growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
He praised the city for supporting him throughout his 20 seasons with the Yankees writing, “I’ll never forget how you looked out for me.”
“Thank you, New York, for asking a lot of me. For challenging me. For giving this kid a place to grow up. I wasn’t born a New Yorker — you asked me to earn it. I wasn’t born a Yankee, but you made me into one,” Jeter wrote.
“Everyone comes to this city with dreams of being No. 1. You showed me that being No. 2 was more than enough.
“Today I’m no longer that kid. I’ve hung up my uniform, and I know this much for a fact: I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you. Because the truth is, no matter where you go in the world, when a place feels like home, as New York does to me, you never really leave.
“It will always be with you.”
The piece is accompanied by a video in which Jeter and other New Yorkers recite the essay.
On Sunday, Jeter’s former teammates will also have a chance to thank him.
“Celebrate his career on the field and off the field in the community as well, and I think for it to come on Mother’s Day, a lot of people will be excited for it,” said Brett Gardner. “I’m looking forward to it.”
As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, Jason Daveau and his mother, Loretta, made the special trip to Yankee Stadium all the way from Providence Rhode Island. They came to celebrate both Mother’s Day and to see Jeter’s number retirement ceremony firsthand.
Daveau grew up five minutes from the Red Sox’s Triple A team in Rhode Island, and he said as much as he hates the Red Sox, it let him see Jeter when he was a minor leaguer with the Columbus Clippers.
“I seen him go from rookie to star to grizzled veteran to future Hall of Famer in my lifetime,” Daveau said. “It’s just one of those things I’m going to forget.”
Loretta Daveau said From start to finish, from his dive into the stands against the Red Sox to his game-winning hit in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium, Jeter was the epitome of baseball.
“He’s classy. He’s fabulous at everything he does. Nobody ever has anything bad to say about him,” she said. “He’s just everything that’s great about the game of baseball.”
Jeter has left loyal supporters with fond memories over the 20 years he played for the Bronx Bombers, amassing more hits than any other Yankee player.
“He was a leader from day one,” Jeter fan Michael Giamella told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez. “Led us to everything that we ever did. It was the face of this franchise for years. A good guy on and off the field.”
It has been more than two full seasons since Jeter last played a game for the Yankees. His franchise-record 20th and final season came in 2014.
“He’s the captain,” fan Jimmy Palmieri said. “He’s my favorite player. Stand-up guy, never a bad thing about him.”
The captain retired with five World Series championships. Tonight, Jeter’s plaque will be unveiled in Monument Park — joining legends such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Lou Gehrig. Jeter’s teammates Andy Pettite and Jorge Posada are also already immortalized with their own plaques.
Additionally, Jeter will become the 22nd player in the franchise to have his number retired. His No. 2 will be the last single-digit uniform removed from circulation.
Fans are thrilled to be at the stadium to witness history.
“He’s a big player,” Hafidh Khamis said. “I love to follow his career. I’ve never seen anything written that was bad about him. I think he’s a very good role model especially for my son. I brought him along for that to witness one of the best players to every play for the Yankees.”
“I think Sunday will be special,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said last week. “I think any time Derek comes back, it’s special, but this will be more meaningful, I think, and I think we’re all looking forward to it. I’m sure he’s looking forward to it.”
The ceremony was held between the games of the Yankees’ doubleheader against the Houston Astros.
Jeter has said he specifically chose Mother’s Day to honor his very first fan – his own mother.