MINNEAPOLIS — Glen Perkins isn’t much of an autograph hound. So despite the fact that he was briefly teammates with Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in Jeter’s 14th and final All-Star Game, Perkins didn’t bother asking "The Captain" to sign anything for him.
Just being on the same team with Jeter, if only for a night, was memorable enough for the Twins closer.
"It was an honor to be a part of it," Perkins said after Tuesday’s game, which the American League won 5-3 at Target Field. "To celebrate his career, Derek’s career tonight, was I think a moment just like me being on that mound, something I’ll never forget. I think to get a standing ovation, have the players come out on the field, everyone recognize a career like that is pretty special."
Twins teammate Kurt Suzuki is a bit different than Perkins. While Suzuki didn’t want to bother Jeter on what proved to be a busy night for the Yankees shortstop, he plans to have Jeter eventually sign something for him as a way to remember the one night they shared the field together.
For all of those involved in Tuesday’s game, being there as Jeter was honored was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Jeter has spent the last two decades with the Yankees and has become the face of baseball. His peers respect the way he plays the game, and many of the sport’s younger stars tell Jeter about how they grew up idolizing him.
In the top of the fourth inning, Chicago’s Alexei Ramirez jogged from the American League dugout on the first base side of Target Field and headed toward shortstop. All 41,048 fans in the stands knew what it meant: this was Jeter’s final All-Star farewell.
"I was down in the pen. We all stood up and cheered," Perkins said. "I was thinking, when he was running off the field I thought, ‘Stop. You need to stop and tip your hat. This is the last time a lot of these people are going to see you.’ A pretty special moment. Just like last year, I was glad I got to be a part of it."
Not surprisingly, Jeter’s exit drew a long, boisterous round of applause from the crowd — and the players on the field. After shaking hands with every American League player in the dugout, Jeter emerged once more for a curtain call, tipping his cap to the fans who witnessed him playing in his final All-Star Game.
With so many eyes on him and so much fanfare surrounding Jeter’s night, he almost seemed reluctant to acknowledge the attention directed at him.
"This All-Star Game is about everybody that’s here. It’s not about one particular person," Jeter said. "I’ve always been uncomfortable, so to speak, when the focus is on me. And I felt as though the focus should be on everyone that’s in this game."
Perkins went through a similar ordeal last year when Yankees closer Mariano Rivera had his farewell tour that included the All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York. For Suzuki, Tuesday was the first and only time that he’d been a part of something like this.
Just like everyone else in the American League clubhouse, Suzuki had nothing but good things to say about his temporary teammate.
"He’s awesome," Suzuki said. "He’s such a great guy. What a professional and what a great role model for everybody. I can say I shared the same field with Jeter. It was great."
After the game, Jeter addressed the throng of media members wanting to hear what he had to say about his final All-Star Game. As Jeter exited the press conference room in the bowels of Target Field, Perkins entered. The two briefly crossed paths and shook hands, with Jeter wishing Perkins luck.
"It’s just not my thing," Perkins said. "I guess for me, it’s cooler in 20 years, I’ll be able to say, ‘I was in the bullpen with Mariano for his last All-Star Game. I was on the team with Jeter for his last All-Star Game.’ . . . Not everyone can say they were on that team. There’s 35 guys that can say they were on that team. To me, that’s a little cooler."