Once in a while, a special person will come into our lives for a brief while, knowing that at some point they will leave it. They touch us and leave us better for knowing them; but they must move on, just as time does. That is what happened today: Derek Jeter played his last game for the New York Yankees.
He said goodbye and I cried.
To understand why this man meant so much to me, you must not only understand the game of baseball, for he transcended that. You must understand life.
The game of baseball is a grueling marathon that runs from March until November. It is played almost every day during that time. Those of us who follow it closely are rewarded with the treat of getting to know our favorites players intimately. They come into our houses every day, and we occasionally visit theirs. They become, in a way, part of our family.
Some players, those once-in-a-generation types, affect us in other ways. They do more than play a game that gives us joy; they inspire and uplift and teach. And so it was with Derek Jeter. He played for 20 years and achieved more than most other players in the history of the game. I remember his very first at-bat, as I shall do his last. And I shall be forever grateful for the gifts he has given me, both on the field and off.
Derek Jeter wrote a book that was published in 2001. It was called: The Life You Imagine, and it showed readers, step by step, how to achieve your dreams. I highly recommend it to everyone. The advice found inside can be applied to any life at all, and is practical and well thought-out. One note, though: it espouses the theory that hard work is essential in achieving your dreams, so if you are not a big fan of hard work, this book is not for you.
I have seen Derek Jeter play many times over the past 20 years, both on television and in person. I have seen amazing fielding plays, clutch hits, and big home runs. But the single thing I will remember the most is watching him fun to first base as hard as he could – every single time, whether it was for a hit or an out. He never stopped hustling. He never stopped working hard – ever.
I have learned a lot of life lessons from Derek Jeter, and I would like to try and summarize a few in this list. This is what I believe he showed us from how he played the game of baseball, and how he lived his life:
1. DREAM BIG (Derek wanted to play shortstop for the Yankees ever since he was a little boy)
2. WORK HARD
3. BE RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS – AND OF YOURSELF
4. APPRECIATE THE VALUE OF EDUCATION
5. DON’T COMPLAIN (Derek was never thrown out of a baseball game for arguing with an umpire)
6. DON’T MAKE EXCUSES (Derek’s philosophy was that if he was playing, he was healthy, and that was that)
7. IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE, LEARN FROM IT AND MOVE ON
8. HELP OTHER PEOPLE (Derek established the “Turn 2 Foundation” even before he was a baseball star. He wanted to share with others some of his blessings.)
I know this isn’t my typical post, but it is something I wanted to share. I hope you got something valuable from it.