They said it: Notable quotes from Derek Jeter Day

A collection of quotes from the invited guests for today’s Derek Jeter Day festivities at Yankee Stadium:

Joe Torre, former manager and current Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball

“I think it’s a great tribute. I think the fans, you can’t get enough of showing appreciation for players like him. Of course Mo, the same thing goes for Mo. It’s a little bit different with Mo, because he comes in… I saw him walking down the hall and thought it was a little early for him to be here. The fact that he’s a regular player, it’s probably uneasy. I think it’s a great idea based on the fact that players like Jeter don’t come down the pike very often. Whether you want to draw people, I think it just gives people the opportunity whether they’re Yankees fans or not, it gives baseball people a chance to appreciate what this young man has done his whole career. I’m happy to be here and I made sure that I was going to be here because it’s too important not to be here for me.”

“I had no idea (in 1996). I knew he was a first round pick, that’s about it. I was a National League guy my whole life and never really paid a lot of attention to the American League. I was told he was going to be my shortstop and I saw him being interviewed right after I had mentioned that to the media. They asked him the same question and he said ‘I’m going to get an opportunity to play shortstop.’ I knew right away that was impressive to me, that he didn’t feel he’d earned anything and he was going to go out there and try to do that. He was just that guy. The one thing I did do after his rookie year, he wins Rookie of the Year and we win the World Series, New York City, I remember calling him in – I think it was in Toronto early in the season the following year, just to — single, good looking, Rookie of the Year, champ. I just wanted to make sure that he wasn’t taking anything for granted. We had a very short conversation. I never asked him that question again, just to make sure the priorities were lined up in the right way.”

Jorge Posada, former Yankees catcher and ‘Core Four’ member

“It’s tough to see him go. I always watch the Yankees play, but he has kept me a little closer to see how he’s doing. Getting hits, did the team win? It’s tough because you go back with him for so long. You want him to finish strong. I told him, ‘September has always been a good month for you, so go out there and do what you do and help the team get to where they need to be.’ He’s going to try everything and I think the team is going to try everything. It’s tough, because I feel for him. At the end of the day, he wants to go to the playoffs. He wants the team to get there. Tough losses like they had Friday, those hurt a lot. They stay with you a little bit longer. I just think … towards the end it’s going to be tougher for him. That last homestand here is going to be tough saying goodbye and probably those three games in Boston, you know that’s it. It’s going to be tough. It would be easier if he gets to the playoffs because obviously he’d have something to look forward to.”

Mariano Rivera, all-time saves leader

“You guys saw the outside. We saw the inside. You never see the bumps and bruises that he has. Once he comes to the training room and he has to fix what he needs to fix but at the same time, when 6:45 comes, he’s ready to play. Those are the guys that you want to be on your side. Those are the players that you have to take them out of the lineup because if you ask them, they will never say I won’t play today because I don’t feel good. That’s the type of player that he is.”

Paul O’Neill, former Yankees outfielder, current YES Network analyst

“I grew up in the Midwest with the Cincinnati Reds during the Big Red machine, where I would get up with the paper every day. I grew up with that generation who were Reds fans. There’s a whole ton of kids out there sporting No. 2 jerseys that are going to be Derek Jeter fans who are taking their kids to the ballparks and remember the days of Derek Jeter. In that sense, yes, it’s the end of an era — you close the book on all the World Series and an unbelievable career. But to think of what he accomplished, and how he did it, it’s unbelievable, and that’s the happy part of the story.”

Tim Raines, former Yankees outfielder

“It’s going to be weird not to see No. 2 out on the field. And especially for me because I enjoyed watching him myself. Even as a player, when I played with him and he was a young guy, I enjoyed watching him play. I was in left field so I watched his back for a few years. Just the things that he did – he’s one of the most clutch players that I’ve ever seen in sports, not just baseball. When it came down to getting a big hit, making a big play, whatever it came down to, Derek Jeter had his hand on it. Having a chance to watch him for three years and his career flourish is something I’ll always remember.”

Tino Martinez, former Yankees first baseman

“I’d have to say (Jeter’s legacy is) the same as DiMaggio, Mantle, all those guys. They finished their careers, the legacies they had, and a whole new chapter began and that’s what’s going to happen here. He’s the face of the Yankees, the face of MLB, what he’s done this year. It’s a whole new beginning for the New York Yankees as far as new leadership, new attitude, to continue doing what Derek and the teams we’ve had started and finished. Hopefully, Derek has been such a great role model and leader to these guys that they’ll carry forward what he’s brought to this team for 20 years.”

Michael Jordan, NBA legend and Jeter friend

“He’s prepared for this. He chose to step away from the game on his own. I think there are a lot of things out there that he hasn’t experienced yet. He hasn’t gotten married yet, hasn’t had kids. These are all different challenges that he’s probably looking forward to. I’ve heard him talk about possibly owning a team. I think he has a clean slate at his own disposal. He has a great reputation; financially, he’s put himself in a good position. His knowledge of the game is strong. He’s going to sit down with his family and pick his next step. I promise you he’s going to give it the same type of effort as he did for the game of baseball. I wish him the best.”

Dave Winfield, Hall of Fame outfielder and Jeter’s boyhood idol

“He was the most inquisitive, the most interested in the game, he knew the history, and he just wanted to be all he could be. I can look now 20 years later, he’s achieved everything and more that he ever envisioned. The Yankees were blessed to have drafted him, for him to play for this team and he was equally as blessed to play here. He is a baseball player, an employee, just a good person to be in an organization. He is going to leave a legacy that every other athlete is going to try to emulate. I’m happy for him. He’s leaving the game on the right note. He’s to be respected. He’s accomplished a lot. I’m happy for him and glad to know him as I do.”

Cal Ripken Jr., iron man shortstop and Hall of Famer

“When I think of Derek, Derek is a true professional. He’s a professional in the sense that out there on the field, he competes. … He’s well-respected all across the league for a good reason; he plays the game the right way and handles himself beautifully. Off the field, he’s a true professional. It still amazes me that, many times with all the ups and downs of one’s career, between the good times and the bad times, that in this market which is very difficult from a media standpoint, Derek always says the right thing. He always handles himself marvelously through all of those things. Ultimately that’s an indication of who is, from his parents, and also an indication of who he is as a person. I respect that a lot.”

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