April 11, 2021

Derek Jeter, the final walk-off and baseball immortality (ESPN)

Editor’s note: This story on Derek Jeter was originally published in the Sept. 26, 2014, issue of ESPN The Magazine. Watch Jeter’s “Mr. November” game — which started on Oct. 31, 2001, but ended just past midnight on Nov. 1 — on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN App.

START ANYWHERE. Take any moment from the Long Goodbye and it will stand for the whole. Take the other night, for example, a game in Baltimore. The Yankees, still technically in the mix for a postseason berth, the way the middle class still technically exists, sent their captain to the plate to get something started. Eighth inning, score tied — this was his kind of moment, and everyone knew it, and the crowd stirred, and rose, and aimed their phones, hoping to capture one final spark of magic. The smattering of Yankees fans clapped and broke into that familiar chant, which has become his theme song, his war cry. Two descending musical notes, G-sharp, F, G-sharp, F, a downward sloping cadence that sounds almost like a playground taunt. DER-ek JE-ter! Nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah. But the chant, the excitement, it was all just muscle memory and frantic nostalgia and burned out tropes, because this wasn’t the Jeter…

Read “Derek Jeter, the final walk-off and baseball immortality” at ESPN