All-Star fan club: Jeter has many admirers in MLB
Players, coaches thrilled to be a part of shortstop's final Midsummer Classic
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Derek Jeter fest began in earnest on Monday as all involved prepared for the Yankees captain's final All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Target Field (watch on FOX).
Jeter has been named to 14 American League teams during his 20-year career, creating a bevy of memories.
"There's a lot of them," Jeter said. "Your first one, you're always going to remember -- first game I got a chance to start in Atlanta. The Yankee Stadium one in '08 was special. One of the ones that stands out the most was when we were in Boston in '99 and all the great players were on the field. I got a tap on my shoulder and it was Hank Aaron and he said he was looking for me because he wanted to meet me. I was like, 'You want to meet me?' That's something that stands out. It's one of the best moments I've had on a baseball field."
On Tuesday, the memories will also be created for the 68 players, two managers and all the support staff who are part of the 85th edition of the Midsummer Classic. Here's a sampling of comments from some of the participants, including two born-and-bred New Jersey kids, a former Yankees teammate and the left-hander who served up the home run that accounted two years ago for Jeter's 3,000th hit.
Rays pitcher David Price, who gave up that hit: "To me, that was the most special part about coming, to be a part of his All-Star Game. I wasn't an All-Star last year so I wasn't able to experience everything that went on with Mariano [Rivera], when he came into the game that was very special. I've been part of a couple of his cool moments so it will be neat to be on his team for this cool moment. Outside of my parents and family and teammates, there's probably nobody I respect more."
Mariners second baseman and former Yankees teammate Robinson Cano: "My favorite memory of him was when he got the 3,000th hit. Everyone was ready that day and for him to be able to do it with a home run was amazing. He was one of the biggest parts of my career on and off the field. I appreciate him. I was a young player, playing alongside him and he helped me a lot."
From some of the other pitchers:
Cardinals right-hander and National League starter Adam Wainwright: "You know what? I was telling my wife yesterday that this will be something I can always remember because I have never faced Derek before. This will be the first time I've ever faced him. Spring Training, regular season, I have been in the big leagues for nine years, I've never faced him. I'm very excited about it, just to say I faced the best. And he is undoubtedly one of the best to ever play his position, one of the greatest Yankees of all time. And I'm very fortunate and I feel very proud to be able to say I am going to face Derek Jeter."
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester: "It will be pretty cool. I don't want to age him too much but I watched him growing up. Obviously the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and having to deal with him all the time. I'm just glad he's finally done so I don't have to face him anymore. It will be a cool experience to be a part of this. He deserves everything he gets and hopefully he won't be hounded too much so he can actually enjoy it, have fun, and really take away some memories from this."
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw: "He has been the face of the game the last 18 or 20 years. A guy like Jeter embodies what baseball is. He's a winner. He's a great player. The game is going to miss him.''
Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto: "It's amazing actually seeing him right now. I think he can still play. He wants to go home and be with his family. He deserves to retire. I think he's one of the greats of all time."
Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer: "It's going to be awesome. Last year I got the experience of being here with Mariano for his last All-Star Game, and that was an unbelievable experience. The All-Star Game is already cool enough, but to have a legend go out just made it even better. When that happens on Tuesday with Jeter, what he's meant to this game is only going to make it that much more special for everybody involved -- fans, players, everybody. We'll always remember this."
And from the Jersey boys:
Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, who stood next to Jeter as a 12-year-old for the national anthem at the old Yankee Stadium after his Toms River team won the Little League World Series: "I'm just looking around like a kid in a candy store. I talked to him three years ago. We worked out together in Florida for a little bit. I said, 'Do you remember that?' He started laughing. He said, 'Holy cow, don't tell anybody.' That's just the way he is. He's a happy-go-lucky guy and I can't wait to see his final All-Star Game, playing against him."
Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who grew up in Millville: "Just to be part of the same lineup and same clubhouse as him is going to be special for me. It's going to be something to remember, to be a part of it and experience it firsthand. I was a Phillies fan growing up, but I liked the way Jeter played. The way he carries himself on the field, he's a true professional."
And from some of the other sluggers:
D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt: "I don't know if I'll even get to talk to him. He'll have a lot more people bugging him than me. But it will be cool to be a part of it, to play against him and see him have his last All-Star Game. He's had an unbelievable career. As far as being part of the next generation of young players, all you can do is go out and play up to the best of your abilities and see what happens. You can't live up to Derek Jeter or anything like that. It's a huge comparison."
Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez on his favorite Jeter play: "Wow, he's got so many. He's got that play against the Oakland A's that was a great play, that one in New York where he dove into the stands. He's got so many. You know what? I'm going to cross the line a little bit, but I think Major League Baseball needs to do something with players like him. They don't come around often and he should go into the Hall of Fame as soon as the season's over. I have a great amount of respect for him. He's a guy I always looked up to. He plays the game the right way."
Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera: "It's going to be great. I had the chance to do it last year with Mariano. It's going to be a great experience. I look forward to today and tomorrow to talk to him, try to steal something from him so I can be a better baseball player."
Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton: "It will be very special. His last one is going to be awesome. Hopefully there is something dedicated to him and acknowledging him. I was able to play against him in Panama and see that whole atmosphere and just the respect. It's unmatched. It will be cool to be on the same field again and be a part of it."
Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig: "I would have liked to have played with him, play against him. I am humbled that this is his last All-Star Game and the first game for me. He is the face of baseball ever since I can remember. It was an honor to meet him last year."
And from the AL coaching staff:
Red Sox and AL manager John Farrell: "It's a rare and unique opportunity. And at the same time we are able to celebrate a player who is not only a champion, but a guy that sets the bar that I think all players should aspire to. The way he has handled himself with class, with performance. No doubt a Hall of Famer. This will be a day that I think many baseball fans that are either in the ballpark or watching [on TV] will remember Derek's last All-Star Game."
Indians manager and AL coach Terry Francona, who was manager of the Red Sox during some of the great games of the rivalry: "That's one of the things I'm looking forward to the most the next couple of days, to see how he is received. He embodies so much of what is good about the game. To be able to watch him in person, I'm really looking forward to that. It's kind of an honor to compete against him and his team because of the way he goes about things."
Twins manager and AL coach Ron Gardenhire: "He's one of these guys who is what baseball's all about. He's probably the most professional guy. He's in the community and has always handled himself really well. And also, he's a winner. He's brought championships to that baseball team over there and the whole package. He's just a guy who makes everyone around him feel good. That's what leaders do. We've had a guy like that in Kirby Puckett. They always make everybody feel good around you."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.