Ranking Derek Jeter's 2014 Farewell Tour Gifts from Worst to First
It's possible this Derek Jeter retirement tour got a little out of hand somewhere between a kayak, an all-expenses-paid trip to something called the "Castle of the Rockies" and a salute from astronauts in space.
To paraphrase Robin Ventura, Jeter wasn't given six months to live prior to the season, so the gifts upon gifts can understandably appear gratuitous. But the New York Yankees captain deserves it all. Let's not get it twisted.
And since we don't believe in re-gifting or de-gifting here—Jeter's (garage is) keeping each and every one of them—we decided to power rank them by team from worst to first.
So how do all the gift-givers and their gifts stack up?
To make some sense of the rankings (and to have a little fun with it), each team's gifts are graded on a scoring index with three categories—creativity/originality, utility/usefulness and bonus points—scaled from one to five for a maximum of 15 points.
The first category is self-explanatory. The second one asks questions like, "Will this ever get used/eaten/hung prominently in the home?" The third gives extra credit where extra credit is due—such as, for a particularly special ceremony, or, was Ozzie Smith wearing a dapper red Cardinals blazer at the St. Louis ceremony?
With that, check out the rankings and let us know your thoughts on the best gifts in the comments section.
Note: David Robertson's blown save in Jeter's final home game was not considered.
20. Kansas City Royals
Gift: $10,000 check to Turn 2 Foundation
It's not politically correct to criticize the Royals for solely presenting Jeter with a fat check, but let's do it objectively anyway.
Not even a patch of Kauffman Stadium AstroTurf from 1975? Hard to imagine the organization is still bitter toward the Bombers about the Pine Tar Game (the Royals also won the game after it was protested and restarted).
At least this gift is in line with Mariano Rivera's exit tour, when Kansas City's lone gift was a donation to the church he was renovating.
Bonus: 1 (large sum compared to some other teams' checks)
Gift Score: 2
19. Milwaukee Brewers
Gift: Bronze replica bat; $10,000 check to Turn 2 Foundation
In his final game at Miller Park, Jeter received a bronze bat from Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun and the Brewers. They added a nice check to his foundation too.
Not totally sure what to make of this gift. It resembles Jeter's relationship with/against the Brewers over the past few decades: neither here nor there.
Bonus: 1.5 (MLB gives out Silver Sluggers; not many players have bronze bats)
Gift Score: 4.5
18. St. Louis Cardinals
Gifts: Cuff links (engraved with Stan Musial's face); $10,000 check to Turn 2 Foundation
Jeter's face says it all: "Cuff links? Thank you so much!" This is sort of like a lazy Father's Day gift.
What didn't bail the Cardinals out: That the links had Stan the Man's face on them.
What did: An All-Star cast of several former Cardinals to assist in the gift ceremony, including two Hall of Famers, shortstop Ozzie Smith and second baseman Red Schoendienst.
The cuff links proved it was possible to give Jeter a gift he'll likely wear less than pinstripe cowboy boots (more on this soon).
Bonus: 1.5 (Ozzie Smith's jacket)
Gift Score: 4.75
17. Chicago White Sox
Gifts: Mini Yankees bench (made of bats, balls and bases); Comiskey Park dirt (in a glass container with famous shortstops' names); $5,000 check to Turn 2 Foundation
This bench is pretty awesome, and it has the personal touch of being constructed by former White Sox bopper Ron Kittle. There would've been higher praise for a lifetime .239 hitter who suddenly built a custom bench for a member of the 3,000-hit club, but Kittle owns a company that churns these out pretty regularly.
The other issue is that it sort of looks like it belongs in a children's catalog for an "Ultimate Yankees Fan Bedroom."
The Comiskey Park dirt is definitely one of the more prized possessions from this tour, though it's hard to imagine it receiving as prominent a position in his home as a piece of the Wrigley Field scoreboard, for instance. No disrespect to the White Sox, Comiskey or Alexei (ALEXEIIII!) Ramirez.
Bonus: 1 (Paul Konerko presented the gifts)
Gift Score: 6
16. Cleveland Indians
Gifts: Lego artwork of Jeter's first home run (in Cleveland); personalized, pinstriped electric guitar
These are some cool, creative ideas from the Indians, though it's not clear what Legos have to do with the city of Cleveland or Ohio.
The guitar is a nod to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland, and it came with an emblazoned No. 2 and engraved "Farewell Tour."
But the Indians are docked obvious points here since Jeter dislikes that exact phrase (see his face above).
"I don't like that phrase," Jeter had said a full month earlier, per NJ.com's Brendan Kuty, who noted the Captain would rather call it, "My last year."
"It's not a tour," Jeter explained. "I don't know why it bothers me so much but we're still trying to win games."
Bonus: -1 (poor choice of engraving)
Gift Score: 6.5
15. Chicago Cubs
Gift: No. 2 square from the Wrigley Field scoreboard
In a pregame ceremony in late May, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro presented the No. 2 square from the Wrigley scoreboard. Since Wrigley is (somewhat) within shouting distance of Jeter's hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan, he used to make the drive for a few Cubs games.
"I remember coming here as a kid, coming to watch games here," Jeter said, per ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand. "I remember my last day of high school after classes were over, we drove here to come to a Cubs game."
Really hard to take away from this gift since Jeter now possesses a historic relic from the second-oldest major league ballpark. Nice touch to allow the young shortstop to handle the ceremony—especially since Castro has expressed how he models his game after the Yankee Captain, per Marchand. If there's one shortcoming, it's in the originality department, since the Red Sox gave Mariano the No. 42 square from the Fenway scoreboard last year.
But first bonus: The Cubs played Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" during the gift-giving. Added bonus: Before the pregame proceedings, Jeter got to sit down and chat with Mr. Cub, Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks (photo here).
Said Jeter of Banks: "He treated me well when I was first coming up and had an opportunity to meet him. You always remember how someone makes you feel when you first meet them. I've always appreciated how he treated me."
Bonus: 2.5 (Banks chat; playing Sinatra)
Gift Score: 7
14. Houston Astros
Gifts: Custom cowboy boots; Stetson hat; golf clubs
Credit to the Houston Astros for being the first up on April 2, the second game of the 2014 season—that's a tough spotlight to be in.
Then again, they had a full season of tape on gift-giving from Rivera's farewell tour in 2013. And two-thirds of Jeter's gifts ripped off the Texas Rangers' idea from a season ago. They similarly had a light bulb go off on custom cowboy boots and a hat (big credit to Mo for wearing the hat in some photos, by the way).
The problem in Houston has three components, the first being the lack of originality here. Second, very few people on this planet would leave their home with pinstripe cowboy boots; fewer would leave their Texas home with New York-themed ones. Third, this is an example of the givers probably thinking more about themselves than the receiver (like a Packers fan giving his wife a custom jersey even though she's not a football fan and is from California).
The Astros bailed themselves out with the golf clubs, however. Great touch. Everyone plays golf in retirement, and Jeter hosts an annual celebrity tournament.
Bonus: 2 (golf clubs; boots had pinstripes)
Gift Score: 7.5
13. Minnesota Twins
Gifts: Final second base bag used in the Metrodome; $10,000 check to the Turn 2 Foundation
Nothing particularly original about stadium memorabilia at this point. But the Twins' farewell gift to Jeter was incredibly special and thoughtful.
The bag, after all, is one of only four final bases used in the Metrodome, and it's the second base one, no less, where Jeter patrolled the infield against the Twins for many years.
The gesture takes on a little more significance if you notice the 2009 postseason plaque on the side of the bag. That was the season in which Jeter and the Yankees eliminated the Twins in the ALDS en route to the World Series. That's just great sportsmanship.
Bonus: 1.5 (Ron Gardenhire gave a speech; Paul Molitor presented the check)
Gift Score: 7.75
12. Cincinnati Reds
Gift: Framed, signed jerseys from Dave Concepcion and Barry Larkin
The Yankees didn't face the Reds at the Great American Ballpark this year, so Cincinnati one-upped everyone by giving Jeter a gift as the visitors in the Bronx (bonus class points).
This was a simple idea, but it was executed pretty tastefully. Anyone ever seen a framed double-jersey?
Two baseball greats, Cincinnati legends and outstanding shortstops. Extra points because general manager Walt Jocketty was joined by third baseman Todd Frazier, who's a Tri-state kid from New Jersey.
Bonus: 3.5 (majority from gesture of doing this as away team)
Gift Score: 8
11. Seattle Mariners
Gifts: Original seat from the Kingdome; commemorative base from Safeco (for final series he played in Seattle); Jay Z Hublot watch (from Robinson Cano); $5,000 check for Turn 2 Foundation
The M's put up a solid gift-giving session, especially with a chair from the Kingdome, where Jeter collected the first two hits of his career.
"You're extremely nervous when you come up," said Jeter of his first series in Seattle, per ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews. "I'd never played in a dome. It was sort of a weight off your shoulders to get that first one, because a lot of times the first of anything is the most difficult."
But the Mariners are definitely not the first team to give stadium collectibles/memorabilia, so the creativity gets docked a little here. Give them credit for presenting one piece from their previous stadium and one from their current one; it really says, "You're old enough that your career has spanned two ballparks."
Cano takes the cake on this one, though, handing Jeter a $34,000 Jay Z Hublot in "an ornate wooden box" (photo here), with the warm caption, "To Derek: Thank you for showing me how to be a leader. With love and respect, RC."
Utility: 4 (Hublot)
Bonus: 1.75 (for having Edgar Martinez and Jay Buehner out on the field)
Gift Score: 9.25
10. Texas Rangers
Gifts: Personalized cowboy boots; $10,000 check to Turn 2 Foundation; framed, autographed photo of George W. Bush and Jeter from the 2001 World Series (presented by Bush)
Few things to note here: The Rangers gave Mariano identical black boots (with the interlocking NY and personal name) a season ago. They also gave the Sandman just $5,000 for his foundation—curious.
But give Texas credit for pulling out all the stops, regardless, and bringing out former President Bush for the final gift. This one is especially thoughtful since Bush was the center of an iconic moment just weeks following the September 11 attacks, when he threw out the first pitch in the Bronx before Game 3 of the World Series (video here; notice how he bypasses the "ceremonial" rubber and pitches from the real one).
"At the time, it was considered one of the ways he was encouraging Americans to get back to normal," wrote the Daily News' Nina Mandell 10 years later.
Bonus: 4 (bringing out a former POTUS)
Gift Score: 9.5
9. Detroit Tigers
Gifts: Pair of chairs from old Tiger Stadium; collection of three paintings; $5,000 check to Turn 2 Foundation
It was a family affair in Jeter's home state on August 27, as his parents, sister and nephew were all on the Comerica Park field for the ceremony. According to ESPN New York's Matthews, his nephew Jalen tipped his hat to the crowd after receiving an introduction.
While the Tiger Stadium seats and donation aren't gifts we've never seen, the Tigers nailed it on the centerpiece.
The three paintings act as a career retrospective, with the first depicting Jeter as a high school player at Kalamazoo Central, while the second shows him on the Yankees at Tiger Stadium and the third is of the Captain at Comerica.
Slight point deduction—if any—since Detroit similarly gave Rivera a dual-photograph gift of him pitching in both ballparks.
Bonus: 4 (points for the Tigers including each of Jeter's family members)
Gift Score: 10
8. Los Angeles Angels
Gift: Stand-up paddleboard
Kudos for the understated Yankees/pinstripes/Jeter aspects on the nose and tail—which, unlike the pinstripe boots, really scream, "You might actually use this without looking ridiculous."
The only area they'd be penalized is for potentially copying Oakland, who gave Mo a custom surfboard last year. Or maybe they're just one-upping their Bay Area brethren.
Best part: Everyone looks awesome on a paddleboard. Because you're standing on a giant board. With a giant paddle. In the ocean. Bonus points for guest room on a board that big—that way you can fit your model girlfriend, Hannah Davis.
You can even go full bro by wearing a hat and sunglasses and letting your dog post up. Good work, Halos.
Bonus: 2.5 (plus-one/girlfriend capacity)
Gift Score: 10.5
7. Oakland Athletics
Gifts: Personalized bottle of Napa Valley wine; $10,002 check to Turn 2 Foundation
The A's went with the best their geography had to offer. Not a limited edition of this Mac Dre record, but a bottle of Napa wine.
You can't go wrong with giving someone vino—unless it's two-buck chuck (and even then, there are several scenarios where that would be permissible).
Bonus points for former Yankee teammate and current A's hitting coach Chili Davis, who sent three bottles of Cabernet ($125 a bottle, according to ESPN New York's Matthews) "in impressive wooden boxes" to Jeter's locker before the game.
Simple. Useful. Far from gratuitous. Delicious.
Bonus: 3 (one point for each bottle of bonus wine)
Gift Score: 10.75
6. Tampa Bay Rays
Gifts: $16,000 to Turn 2; Yankees/No. 2 kayak; framed Don Zimmer jersey
Why $16,000? The Rays wanted to honor every one of Jeter's career hits against them with $50. Got to love the combination of respect, humility and humor.
After seeing the Angels deliver on their paddleboard, the Rays came out swinging with the Yankees kayak. Great chance it collects dust in Jeter's St. Petersburg home but still a solid chance it gets some use. Extra points because it's much easier to maneuver and handle than a paddelboard—deduction since there's only room for one.
But the Rays weren't done. Out from the dugout came Evan Longoria, Jose Molina and Don Zimmer's widow, Soot, to pass off one of the last jerseys Zim ever wore. A particularly special moment since Jeter maintained a family-like relationship with Zimmer even after he joined Tampa's coaching staff.
Bonus: 4 (including Zimmer in Jeter's ceremony)
Gift Score: 12
5. New York Mets
Gifts: No. 2 mosaic from subway tiles; custom cake of the Nos. 4 and 7 trains; $22,222.22 check to Turn 2 Foundation
Safe to say the Mets' gift-giving ceremony to Jeter was much better than their 2014 season. It had a little bit of everything: art, food, decor, money, humor and warmth.
The subway-tile mosaic alone was incredibly creative; Jeter actually received a piece of New York itself. It's unique, to the point and in good taste. Bonus here for not getting carried away with attempting pinstripes or a portrait.
The cake was pretty spectacular too (photo here)—metallic icing for the subway cars? Brilliant. And hand it to the Metropolitans for getting creative with their donation as well. According to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin, Jeter ribbed chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon at the ceremony, saying, "[Just] Two hundred and something?"
Bonus: 4 (using surroundings; creative donation; edible gift)
Gift Score: 12.25
4. Toronto Blue Jays
Gifts: $10,000 check to Turn 2 Foundation; all-expenses-paid trip to the Canadian Rockies
Oh, Canada. This is pretty sweet.
Per ESPN New York's Matthews, in addition to the check above, the Blue Jays dished out a three-night vacation in their homeland complete with a "1,500-square-foot 'royal suite,' a helicopter tour of the Canadian Rockies, a private cooking lesson with the castle's executive chef, a private mixology lesson from the castle's executive bartender, [and] private golf and skiing lessons."
Other than a longer stay, there's not much else the Jays could've done to up this gift. Retired Jeter suddenly becomes helicopter-riding Jeter, Chef Jeter, Jeter the bartender and skiing Jeter.
Also, you read "castle" correctly because the resort is called the "Castle of the Rockies." Massive improvement over Rivera's 2013 gifts shown by Toronto here, since they gave Mo an Inuit sculpture of a man in a canoe reeling in a fish.
Bonus: 3 (Jeter's going to a castle. In the Canadian Rockies.)
Gift Score: 12.5
3. Boston Red Sox
Gifts: Fenway scoreboard read, "With Re2pect to Jeter"; L.L. Bean Yankees boots; pinstriped No. 2 second base; $22,222.22 check to Turn 2; heavy-metal placard from the Monster reading "RE2PECT," signed by 2014 Red Sox; live singing of Aretha Franklin's "Respect"
Give it up to Boston for possibly the classiest sendoff. If we were ranking by overall pregame ceremony, the Sox probably took the top spot this season.
In addition to honoring Jeter on the left field scoreboard, former Red Sox legends, three Boston sports captains (Bobby Orr, Troy Brown and Paul Pierce), the entire current Sox team and the inspiration for the "Ice Bucket Challenge," Pete Frates, all lined the infield.
First, former Jeter coach, and now Boston third base coach, Brian Butterfield, presented the custom Yankees boots. Then a solid check was presented to Jeter's Turn 2 before Dustin Pedroia handed off a second base bag with pinstripes and the No. 2 embroidered on top. David Ortiz and Xander Bogaerts gave Jeter the "RE2PECT" sign seen above, and then the Sox brought out their special guest, Frates, who greeted Jeter all alone for one of the better moments of this tour.
If that weren't enough, Jeter received a live rendition of "Respect," sung right in front of him to cap it all off.
Bonus: 5 (class, class, class)
Gift Score: 13
2. Baltimore Orioles
Gifts: Official U.S. Navy Captain's hat, bucket of jumbo steamed crabs, oversized personal crab mallet, No. 2-shaped cake and a $10,000 check to the Miracle League of Marasota in Jeter's name
This is quite a haul for one city—and quite a gesture by a division rival.
The O's kept it fresh and local with the bucket of crabs and personalized mallet, even including a dessert portion with the No. 2 cake.
Nice of Baltimore to recognize the Turn 2 Foundation may have become bloated on Jeter's tour, and so it decided to choose another (tremendous) cause instead: the Miracle League, which enables special needs children and adults to play baseball.
Easily the top gift of the ceremony came when a Naval officer presented an official Navy Captain's hat to the Yankees captain. It's layers upon layers of respect and Maryland loving.
Bonus: 4 (fresh seafood plus great cause plus Naval officer)
Gift Score: 14
1. New York Yankees
Gifts: Massage-therapy machine; framed patches from 14 All-Star Games; 10-day trip to Tuscany; inscribed Waterford crystal; $222,222.22 check to Turn 2; "Re2pect" salute from Astronauts at the International Space Station; New York City mayor Bill de Blasio's proclamation of September 7, 2014 as "Derek Jeter Day"
Was this all a bit much? Absolutely. Probably way too much. But the Yankees simply wouldn't be outdone in Jeter gift-giving.
The long pregame ceremony included everyone and their mother. Literally—Jeter's mother and Jeter's mother's mother too.
In attendance on the field were former teammates, coaches, other Hall of Famers, many of "Jeter's Leaders" from his Turn 2 and even Michael Jordan (though the best part was Jalen wearing a full Yankees uniform).
Derek Jeter Day, especially, had the feel of packing up Jeter and all his beloved possessions (gifts) for a Norse funeral. As Sports Illustrated's Jay Jaffe wrote, "All that was missing was a funeral pyre on the mound to send Jeter into the afterlife."
But we have to commend Jeter's own team for truly, truly giving him the full gamut of farewell gifts.
To make sense of the madness in the Bronx: a massage machine, Tuscany vacation, mayoral proclamation and space salute. Thinking we have a clear winner. Bonus: The sly, sly Yankees didn't just rip off the Mets' play on No. 2 with their check; they upped the ante by $200,000.
Bonus: 5 (Tuscany plus space)
Gift Score: 14.25