Dozier still emulates Jeter after all these years
JUL 04, 2014 12:00p ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier swears it's simply coincidence that he wears the same jersey number as his childhood hero.
When Dozier made his major-league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2012, he was randomly assigned No. 20. Heading into the following season, Dozier wanted to switch to a single-digit number, since that's what he'd typically worn throughout his career. The No. 2 was available, so he chose that.
"I didn't get to pick my first number. Might as well pick one I like," Dozier said. "I guess in a roundabout way, it could be the same thing why I picked two. It might be because of Jeter."
This weekend, Dozier gets to share the same field one last time with one of two players whose posters he hung on his wall growing up in Mississippi. As an Atlanta Braves fan, Dozier idolized All-Star third baseman Chipper Jones. But as a shortstop, he emulated Jeter.
Even after Dozier switched positions from shortstop to second base in 2013, he still has plenty of respect for the Yankees captain.
"I used to always slide in the hole and make that kind of throw. My college coach wanted to start doing the Jeter play more on the throw and all that kind of stuff," Dozier said. "I always wear a wristband on my left (arm) just like he always did. That started at a young age, too. A lot of little things."
By now, the 40-year-old Jeter has grown accustomed to hearing younger players -- like the 27-year-old Dozier -- tell him that they grew up watching him or trying to be like him. It comes with the territory of spending 20 seasons in the major leagues.
Yet while it may make him feel old in his final season, Jeter embraces the opportunity to have those types of conversations. After all, he was in those young players' shoes once upon a time.
"I enjoy meeting a lot of the younger guys because I know it's been a while, but I remember being on base and talking to Cal Ripken and not really saying too much. I just sort of listened and looked," Jeter said. "It's kind of fun when the tables are turned a little bit. I enjoy meeting guys, talking with them."
Dozier and Jeter have crossed paths over the last few years, sharing a few words of casual conversation along the way. When Minnesota traveled to New York earlier this season, Dozier made sure to let Jeter know that he didn't want him to call it a career quite yet, despite 20 years in the league.
"I asked if he would just play one more year after this year for me, just joking around. He said he's taking it to the house," Dozier said. "He's had an outstanding career. Hats off to him. He's made a big impact, not only on the game but kids around the world, so it's pretty cool."
Dozier wasn't a member of any of the Twins teams that faced Jeter's Yankees in the playoffs, but he knows that New York has had Minnesota's number in recent years -- thanks in large part to Jeter. The Twins and Yankees have played each other four times in the playoffs during Jeter's 20-year career, and New York won all four series.
Yet for all the on-field accomplishments Jeter has had in the game of baseball, it's what he's done off the field that continues to resonate with Dozier as he now enters the prime of his career.
"That's the biggest thing, being a role model. That kind of hits home to me," Dozier said. "I like that stuff more than anything. You can throw away all that stuff, accomplishments on the field, but how he carries himself and does things the right way, that's the thing I respect most."
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