The announcement of Derek Jeter's retirement following the 2014 season caught many people off guard initially, but it didn't take those who shared the field with him and those who knew him best long to find the words to describe one of this generation's defining players.
Here's how the baseball world reacted on Wednesday, beginning with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, whose 21 years in office ran almost parallel to Jeter's career.
“In the 21-plus years in which I have served as Commissioner, Major League Baseball has had no finer ambassador than Derek Jeter. Since his championship rookie season of 1996, Derek has represented all the best of the National Pastime on and off the field. He is one of the most accomplished and memorable players of his – or any – era.
“Derek is the kind of person that generations have emulated proudly, and he remains an exemplary face of our sport. Major League Baseball looks forward to celebrating his remarkable career throughout the 2014 season.”
“Derek called me this morning to tell me that he planned to retire following the season. In our conversation, I told him that I respected his decision because I know he put a lot of thought into it. I also let him know that I thought it was great that he was letting fans know now so they will have a chance to say goodbye to him.
He is unquestionably one of the greatest Yankees ever. He has meant so much to fans, the organization, my father and our family. I’m glad we have this year to celebrate everything he has meant to us and all the great things he still stands to accomplish.”
Former teammate and current Yankees manager Joe Girardi:
"Derek Jeter has been a great representative of what the Yankees have stood for over the years. He has been a team player who has only cared about winning. He has also been a fine example both on and off the field over his long tenure as a Yankee. It has been a real pleasure to manage him and play alongside him.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman:
“It has been an incredible honor having a front row seat for one of the great players of all time. Derek has been a winner every step of the way. I am already looking forward to an exciting final chapter of his storied career.”
Former teammate and 'Core Four' member Jorge Posada:
"It was an honor and privilege to have Derek next to me for all those years. He made me a better player and a better person. I'm so proud of our friendship and I love him like a brother. Derek was a true champion and the greatest teammate I ever had."
"You can't say enough about this guy. Wouldn't know how to put it in words. He's the best. All-around, he's the best. Running, throwing, fielding, hitting, he's the best.''
(Were you surprised?) "Yes, and no. At the age of 40, I wasn't surprised. But what happens if he hits .295, .300 this year. But if he's calling it quits, I'm sure he means it. He's had enough. Twenty years, that's pretty good. And playing every day, every inning. There were times when he shouldn't have been playing, with a sore ankle or something. But that was Jeter.''
“I was fortunate as a young player in this town to be able to watch how Derek Jeter conducted himself on and off the field. I had the privilege to call Derek a teammate during the World Baseball Classic and got to see firsthand how to lead by example.
“I’ve always been a big Derek Jeter fan for what he has done on the baseball field. I became an even bigger fan after getting to know Derek and learning there is more to this game than what goes on between the lines. Excluding the Subway Series, I wish him all the best in his final season.”
"Happy to be part of history with a player/person of his caliber.''
Former teammate and current MLBPA executive director Tony Clark:
“For nearly 20 years, there has been no greater ambassador to the game of baseball than Derek Jeter. Day in and day out, on the world’s greatest stage, and through the peaks and valleys of a 162-game schedule, Derek consistently demonstrates awe-inspiring levels of passion, determination and excellence.
“I had the pleasure of playing against and with Derek. As his teammate in 2004, I had the privilege of seeing his leadership and professionalism manifest itself daily.
“A champion on and off the field, Derek’s impact cannot be understated. Not only does he make the game better, he makes lives better through his Turn2 charitable foundation. Derek has set the standard that we should all strive to achieve.
“I wish Derek all the best this season and in all his future endeavors.”
Legendary shortstop and baseball's iron man Cal Ripken Jr.:
“Derek has represented the Yankees and the game of baseball so well for so many years. He has had a wonderful career, and as a fan I will miss watching him play. He will be remembered as one of the all-time greats, and I hope he enjoys his final season in pinstripes.”
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