Jeter honored by Mets in final Subway Series game

Friends Nick Viena (l. to r.), Damon Byron of Throggs Neck and Michael Batista of Pelham Bay enjoy the Subway Series action at Citi Field.
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

Derek Jeter like most New York fans hopes he hasn’t played his last Subway Series game.

In all likelihood that was the case in the Yankees 1-0 victory over the crosstown rival Mets on May 15th at Citi Field with Jeter set to retire at the end of the season. Still the Yankees captain was hoping for a repeat of 2000 when the two clubs met in the World Series.

“I think both teams would agree to that,” said Jeter, who has played in 88 regular season games against the Mets.

He was given Subway Series themed gifts by the Mets, in a ceremony in the Citi Field press conference room, much like one he will get in every other city as he closes out his Hall of Fame career. The Mets has a special cake made by the “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. Jeter also received a special painting featuring the 4 and 7 trains and the Empire State Building along with a subway-tile mosaic featuring his number 2 and pinstripes in the Mets and Yankees colors.

The Mets organization also donated 22,222.22 to his Turn 2 foundation that motivates young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and was presented with a check by Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon. Jeter jokingly was hoping for more in what could be seen as a jab at the Mets financial woes.

“You sure its not $222 [thousand],” he said.

Wilpon awkwardly responded “No, No, No,” before Jeters made it clear he wasn’t serious. He thanked the Mets for their generosity and reminisced about his time playing in the Subway Series. Jeter said his first Subway Series in 1997 and the 2000 World Series were his most memorable installments. No matter when they played the fans made each game feel important.

“What’s special is the energy in the stadium in all four, old Yankee Stadium, the new Yankee Stadium, Shea and Citi,” Jeter said. “It’s the fans that remain the same and the fans who make it fun for us. Regardless of the standings or where any team is or how they’re playing leading up to that series, it’s an exciting series for the fans. It’s an exciting series.”

Bronx fans tend to agree with Jeter. The prevailing though is that the Subway Series has lost some of its luster over the years because of the Mets overall struggles, the Yankees not being as dominant as they once were and the fact that the series is in its 17th year of existence. The fans believe the action on the field and in the stadiums isn’t less exciting, but playing the games early in the week and the teams playing four times instead of six the last two years has people less tuned in.

“All you here in the media is how it doesn’t have any luster,” Mets fan and Pelham Bay resident Michael Batista said. “It’s because it’s Monday through Thursday during the week, put it back on the weekends.”

Yankees fans are sorry to see Jeter go, especially when facing the Mets. The Captain sports a .364 average in the regular season against his crosstown rival. It’s his best average against any team he has played 10 or more times. He has also registered 13 home runs and 44 RBI. Jeter, who was the most valuable player of the 2000 World Series, went was was 4-for-23 with an RBI and a run scored in his final four games against the Mets.

“He’s a Met killer,” Throgs Neck native Damon Bryan said. “He has the numbers.”

Yankees legend Mickey Rivers, who was in attendance for this year’s Subway Series finale, believes Jeter is walking away at the right time. Jeter, who he called “a class act” is still playing at a high level.

“You don’t want to go out tired,” Rivers said. “You want to go out in a good fashion… You did what you had to do. You can’t do any more.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

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