Retiring New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was honored by former president George W. Bush before the Yankees' game against the host Texas Rangers on July 30. Bush gave Jeter a framed autographed photo of the two of them from the 2001 World Series.
"By now, Derek Jeter is used to the celebrations, the pregame festivities that opposing teams honor him with in his final stops at their ballparks. Typically, he knows what to expect. But that wasn't fully the case Wednesday night when the Rangers honored the shortstop by surprising him with a special on-field presentation from the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush.
"Bush, a former managing partner of the Rangers from 1989-1994, had just been on the video board a few minutes earlier, smiling as he recounted the advice Jeter had given him before he threw the first pitch of Game 3 of the 2001 World Series. Seven weeks removed from the 9/11 attacks, Bush was hoping for his presence in Yankee Stadium would be a calming one to the American people that night.
"'Don't bounce it,' Jeter had told him. 'They'll boo you.'
"Jeter laughed Wendesday, standing next to former Rangers All-Stars Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez, only to see Bush enter the field from the Rangers' dugout area seconds later. Bush smiled, giving the baseball icon a signed photo taken in the indoor batting cage before he threw the first pitch that October night in New York.
"Jeter didn't expect the on-field surprise.
"'I had heard he was coming to the stadium, but I didn't know he was going on the field,' Jeter said. 'That's a pretty special feeling, when you have a President come out and give you something to honor you. That's definitely a memory I'll have for a long time. I'll be able to brag to a lot of different people.'
"Rodriguez and Young presented Jeter with a $10,000 donation from the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation to go toward his Turn 2 Foundation, and he also received a pair of Lucchese Italian goat leather cowboy boots. The boots had his name, number and the Yankees' logo on them to have something to remember Texas by.
"Jeter was asked if the surprise visit by President Bush was more meaningful than the gifts.
"'It's an experience, you know what I mean?' said Jeter. 'That's a gift within itself. Not too many people can say they've had the President come out and honor them in a ceremony. It meant a lot to me.'
"'I think you have to have a pretty special guy in order to have a ceremony like that,' Young said. 'In a lot of ways, Derek's kind of a cultural icon in this country, not necessarily just a Hall of Fame baseball player. But you have to be a pretty special guy in order to get that kind of sendoff. I think Chipper (Jones) got it a lot, Cal Ripken, Jr. of course, Mariano (Rivera), Derek -- giants of the game.'
"Jeter entered his final game at Globe Life Park on Wednesday batting .333 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs through 72 regular-season games there. He's played seven playoff games at the park -- in the American League Division Series in 1996, 1998 and 1999, and the AL Championship Series in 2010.
"'He's an unbelievable player. When I'm not playing against him, I love to watch him play -- the things that he does, the things that he did in the field,' Rodriguez said. 'If there's a way to teach a kid how to hit a baseball, that's the best way to to teach a kid how to hit a baseball.'"
ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins wrote about Texas Rangers shortstop Elvin Andrus' looking up to Jeter, who he considers to be "a perfect role model":
"Andrus is a 25-year-old shortstop from Maracay, Venezuela, who idolized Jeter for his professionalism on and off the field. He tries Jeter's signature jump throw from short when the moment fits during games.
"If Jeter is the symbol for what a baseball shortstop is supposed to look like, then Andrus wants to be that.
"'I think he's a perfect role model for any player, the way he handles himself on the field, especially the way he handles himself away from the field,' Andrus said. 'He's never been in trouble, he knows how to handle media, especially playing in New York. I can only imagine how much pressure he has every single day. He's a guy as soon as he steps on the field you can see how professional he is and the thing is everybody on the field respects him, and that's something really hard to earn....'
"...Andrus remembers meeting Jeter for the first time at the 2010 All-Star Game. Andrus didn't want to sweat Jeter, so he tried to be smooth.
"'I was OK, 'That's my idol, I don't want to push him, bother him,' but he was super cool,' Andrus said. 'He's a guy you could ask him whatever, and he's willing to help you. No matter who you are, whether you're a rookie or a veteran, he's going to treat you the same way. And that's what you learn from guys, and no matter how big of a baseball player he is, the way he handles himself is he stays humble all the time.'
"Jeter said he's fortunate and humbled by the pregame ceremonies and the chats he conducts with teammates and players of opposing teams. He knows there are young players trying to be like him.
"'I got a chance to play against him,' Jeter said of Andrus. 'He's fun to watch and play against, and to watch him play, see him develop, see him improve to get to know him a little bit. Talk to him, and it's one of the things I enjoy doing, especially at All-Star Games. You get an opportunity to meet all sorts of personalities, and I've always enjoyed watching him play here in Texas.'"
The Rangers beat the Yankees, 3-2, on July 30. It was New York's fourth loss in its last five games, per MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.