Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez reflect on Derek Jeter's legacy
NEW YORK - Derek Jeter is known for a litany of memorable moments on the baseball field, but what most never hear about are those moments in the clubhouse that his teammates over 20 years remember fondly.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a teammate from 1996-99, touched upon that briefly in his postgame press conference following the second game of Sunday's doubleheader and an entire day of Jeter festivities, but it's a phenomenon two other teammates recalled prior to Jeter's number retirement ceremony.
"He was an instigator; he would stir things up, funny things, but it was all to keep the clubhouse loose and keep us having fun," Jorge Posada revealed. "We did a lot of things when the media wasn't there that was a lot more like a brotherhood."
"He wasn't a prankster as such, but he knew how to needle guys, irritate them and get them going," Tino Martinez added. "Whether it be something they did on the field or not, Derek knew how to bring things up from the past to rile guys up, and it was a lot of fun."
A fitting remembrance, as like with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera before them, neither Posada nor Martinez could really single out one signature Jeter moment as the pinnacle, simply choosing to focus on the aggregate.
"There are just too many things that stand out," Posada said. "You can talk about the flip play, or him going in the stands, but it just represents what he was all about: doing whatever it took to try to win."
"Definitely, and it was all in the way it happened," Martinez added. "A home run for his 3,000th hit, the game-winning hit in his last home game here…he's done so many things in grand style, but it all comes from the way he approached the game every day."
If one of them had to pick one, though?
"I'd have to say the leadoff home run against the Mets in the World Series (in 2000)," Martinez smiled. "We knew as soon as he hit that homer, the game was over right there."
Naturally, Posada and Martinez, who won five and four World Titles with Jeter, respectively, were among the large group of ex-Yankees who came out to celebrate Jeter's number retirement on Sunday. Both are also in Monument Park, Jorge with his number retired and Tino with just a plaque, so they understand maybe a little more than others the magnitude of the moment.
"This is an honor, especially when you talk about the names of the Yankees that are there," Posada said. "Playing the game is just doing your job, and it's just super special to have your number retired forever. It's very new for me still, and I get chills when I look up and see No. 20."
"Yeah, my number isn't retired, but it's a huge honor for me to be in Monument Park," Martinez added. "To be a part of the Yankees organization and win championships, and have my name out there forever, it's the biggest honor I could ever imagine."
One that was obviously coming for Jeter, too, and fitting for him to be the last of the bunch.
"For Derek, we all knew it was coming - it was just a matter of when - but he goes out there as one of the greatest Yankees of all-time and probably the greatest of our generation," Martinez said. But if I know Derek, he doesn't take any of this for granted. He respects Monument Park and what it stands for, and it's a big deal for him."
Added Posada: "I think it's very fitting, for a guy that did everything for this organization and was really the leader of our group, to be the last (of the Core Four to have their number retired). It's really the end of an era; he's it, the last one out there."
Even within the Core Four, Posada probably knows Jeter better than anyone; Derek was the best man at Jorge and Laura Posada's wedding, and Posada returned the favor when Jeter married Hannah Davis. And, because Posada also lives in Miami, he also has his finger on another pulse of Jeteria: how that city feels about Jeter being part of a group bidding to buy the Marlins.
"He wants to keep winning and giving back to baseball, and if (the sale) happens, it will great not only for the organization, but the whole city," Posada said. "People there are asking if it's going to happen, because they want it. They know what he brings: a winning mentality."
Martinez may hail from the other side of the Sunshine State, the Yankees' second home of, but he sees it as both a Jeter contemporary and a Floridian.
"It's what Jorge said, and it's the challenge it represents," Martinez said. "For him, it's a challenge that brings out the competitive spirit, for him to try to win more championships. It's the next phase for him and another chance to try to win a World Series."
If there's one thing these two, and really everyone in the baseball universe, knows, it's that Derek Jeter has never turned down a challenge…and really never fails to conquer it, either.