Derek Jeter's Farewell Tour Will Be More Memorable Than Mariano Rivera's

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2014

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter signs autographs for fans before a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)
Patric Schneider

We're just a few days into the 2014 MLB season, and already the harsh reality of Derek Jeter's impending retirement is starting to set in. 

The New York Yankees' first series of the year was on the road in Houston, where the Astros honored Jeter and his career accomplishments. 

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Jeter was presented with customized cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and golf clubs by former Bomber teammates Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Mike Stanton. It was the first of what is sure to be many farewell ceremonies to one of baseball's greatest shortstops ever. 

"The guys were trying to get me to wear the boots and the hat. I'll wear the boots and the hat while I golf with the golf clubs,'' Jeter said after the game, according to Nightengale. "If I can combine all of them.''

Julia Morales of Comcast SportsNet Houston was on the field and snapped a picture of the golf clubs that Jeter received.

Everybody remembers Mariano Rivera's farewell tour last year. The greatest closer in baseball history was presented with various gifts from teams all around the league. It was capsulated with an emotional ceremony in the eighth inning of Rivera's final game at Yankee Stadium that featured Jeter taking Rivera out of the game in the eighth inning and Rivera leaving in tears. 

The boots and hat the Jeter received from the Astros.
The boots and hat the Jeter received from the Astros.Pat Sullivan

Other gifts from clubs to Rivera included a rocking chair made of broken bats, a bronze broken bat, paintings, a sand sculpture and a customized beach cruiser bicycle. 

While Rivera's exit tour was certainly an emotional one, Jeter's version should be even more heartfelt. While Rivera is undoubtedly the best closer in history, Jeter has simply meant more to the Yankees. 

The legendary shortstop with a career .312 batting average has been the captain of America's most visible baseball team since 2003 and has been with the team since 1995. 

Jeter is not only the face of the franchise, but he's been the face of baseball for as long as some can remember. Jeter has stood for everything that is right in baseball during the sport's most trying era, the steroid era. 

When fans in the Bronx had enough of guys like Clemens and Alex Rodriguez, they were clamoring for Jeter to lead the team through the controversy. And more times than not, Jeter has risen to the occasion. 

Secondly, Jeter's farewell tour should outdo Rivera's simply because every team has a year of experience in conducting them with Rivera. Now every organization's goal will be to outperform what it did last season, and most should accomplish that. 

Pat Sullivan

Just look at Houston. Last year, the Astros presented Rivera with a collage of pictures in the shape of a No. 42. Thoughtful, meaningful? Of course. But better and more significant than customized cowboy boots—the envy of every Texan—absolutely not. 

The gesture was particularly meaningful considering Jeter played just 11 games against the Astros over his career, as Houston was in the National League for nearly all of Jeter's career. If the Astros are already pulling out the stops for Jeter, imagine what the shortstop's home finale will be like. 

The Yankees have their home finale on Sept. 21 against the Blue Jays. What the club will do to honor Jeter will probably remain a mystery until that day comes. 

But one thing's for certain. There won't be a dry eye among baseball fans across the country.