ARLINGTON, Texas – You know a ballplayer has had a special career when a former President shows up to one of your retirement ceremonies.
That’s just what happened to New York Yankees great Derek Jeter on Wednesday night when the Texas Rangers surprised him with an appearance by President George W. Bush.
Bush came out to home plate to greet Jeter during the pregame ceremony and presented him with a personally signed photo of the two men from Oct. 30, 2001.
That was the night Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series, just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. Jeter famously told Bush, "Don’t bounce it, they’ll boo you."
Bush threw a strike that night and apparently was a hit with Jeter on Wednesday, although the Yankees great did not speak during the ceremony.
Jeter was playing his final game ever at Globe Life Park in Arlington as he nears the end of his 20-year career.
Former Rangers greats Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and Michael Young were the first to greet Jeter during the brief ceremony. They presented Jeter with a $10,000 check from the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation for his own Turn 2 Foundation.
Jeter was also given a pair of Lucchese Italian goat leather cowboy boots with his name and the Yankees logo stitched on them.
"He’s the last guy I’d want to see in the World Series at the plate," Rodriguez said. "He’s an unbelievable player. When I played against him, I loved to watch him play."
Jeter entered Wednesday’s game with a .333 batting average, 10 home runs and 40 RBI in 72 regular season games at Globe Life Park in Arlington. He batted .310 (9-for-29) in the seven playoff games he played in Arlington: the 1996, 1998 and 1999 ALDS and the 2010 ALCS.
"Obviously, from a competitive standpoint, the guy’s off the charts," Young said of Jeter. "A Hall of Fame player, he’s stayed his entire career in one place, a very demanding place, and was basically an impact player from the day he stepped on the field.
"It means a lot to be here to support him and to send him off as a representative of this organization."