Derek Jeter Bigger Than Just A Uniform

Of course, there was a raging debate on sports-talk radio here.

A few knucklehead talk-show hosts fanned the flames, played to the hometown crowd.

Somehow, they believed Detroit Tigers fans shouldn't pay homage to New York Yankees' captain Derek Jeter.

Not on Tuesday night, the first of his last three regular-season games in Motown. They thought the Tigers' organization was wrong to have a ceremony for Jeter before Wednesday night's game.

Lastly, they thought that fans shouldn't chant Derek Jeter's name in his final at-bat on Thursday afternoon.

Pure haters, indeed.

Fans, often called sheep, would have no part of that nonsense.

Instead, you saw pure class. You saw true baseball fans that get it, know they just witnessed something special the last 20 seasons.

When Jeter came up to bat in the top of the first inning at Comerica Park on Tuesday, the sellout crowd of 40,488 stood as one and cheered long and loud.

For sure, it was a suitable-for-framing moment for Jeter, who was born in New Jersey, but grew up in Kalamazoo.

In fact, it was the only thing to do for a shoo-in Hall of Famer.

Some fans also cheered when Jeter delivered a first-inning single to right field off Tigers' starter Rick Porcello.

Before the game, the Tigers talked about the utmost respect they have for what Jeter has accomplished both on and off the field. They knew their fans would cheer him and all asked about the impending scene gave their approval.

"He has had a great career, he's going to be a Hall of Famer," Tigers' slugger Miguel Cabrera said before Detroit's 5-2 victory. "Fans should cheer for this guy, Jeter. He deserves it."

Added manager Brad Ausmus. "He has played on the brightest stage in baseball for basically two decades and probably has represented the game as well as almost anyone that's ever played the game in the history of the game. He's as classy as a guy and as tough a competitor as I've ever seen. He deserves all the praise he's getting."

Some, however, said it was wrong a cheer a visiting player in your own ballpark, especially a Yankee.

But this is different. Yes, Jeter wears the pinstripes and is on the team that most in MLB America loves to hate.

Jeter, though, is bigger than just the uniform he wears. Jeter is a living legend, one of the great players of our lifetime.

That's why teams all over baseball have scheduled an acknowledgment of his retirement from baseball, showering him with a ceremony and gifts on his last time into a venue.

The same will happen on Wednesday night at Comerica Park before Game 2. The festivities start at  6:45 p.m.

For sure, fans will appreciate Jeter after he says a few words and acknowledges the Motown masses publicly.

And while most have made a fuss about Jeter, the first Yankee player to ever get 3,000 hits wearing a Yankees' uniform, he doesn't want to get caught up in it.

"I don't like the words farewell tour," Jeter said. "It's my last season is a better way to put it.

"You say tour. It's like you're going around shaking hands and kissing babies. We're still trying to win."

That's Jeter, a winner in every sense of the word. He did whatever it took to get the job done. And he has five World Series championships to show for it. No easy task. In Jeter's tenure, the Yankees have missed the playoffs just twice.

Hence, Jeter has remained focused at the task on hand. "I've really have tried my hardest not to look at the end, which can be difficult at times because every time I go to a stadium for the last time I'm talking about it," he said. "I try to take it day to day."

Still, this final stop here is special. He has many family and friends here for his final three games in Motown.

Jeter, a huge University of Michigan fan and has taken classes at the school in Ann Arbor, hasn't forgotten his roots.

"I've spent an awful lot of time here," Jeter said. "And growing up here, I've always told people I'm from Michigan."

Fans in Birmingham were thrilled to see Jeter earlier on Tuesday. Jeter was seen at the Townsend Hotel signing autographs for some 50-60 fans. No one apparently was disappointed. "Total class act," said baseball fan Ed Miller, who was there.

"There's only one other guy in baseball history that I had more respect for – Stan Musial and Derek Jeter," Tigers' Hall of Famer Al Kaline said. "Because they are both class, class, class, class all the way."

And it should come as no surprise that Tigers fans will be classy toward Jeter while in Motown, too.

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