Buck Showalter reflects on Derek Jeter's career before his final home game

NOTEBOOK

Orioles manager kept Yankees shortstop around team to watch 1995 postseason

September 25, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK — When the Yankee Stadium crowd began chanting New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter’s name after his final at-bat Wednesday after a routine groundout — trying to coax the future Hall of Famer out of the dugout — Orioles manager Buck Showalter knew it wasn’t happening.

It wasn’t the right time.

“He had a tough at-bat, a ground ball back to the pitcher,” Showalter said, “I told a couple of our guys, ‘He ain’t coming out of the dugout. Just watch.’ That’s all you need to know about Derek because it didn’t fit in the context of what was [happening] on the field.”

As Jeter’s first major league manager, Showalter possesses a special insight into Jeter.

Jeter credits Showalter for allowing him to stay with the Yankees in 1995 in the playoffs so he could take in the postseason, and Jeter said that helped him as he went on to win four World Series titles in the next five seasons.

Back then, Showalter was trying to assess how Jeter could help the Yankees out the following year. Three managerial stops later — fresh off an American League East division title with the Orioles — he was in the opposing dugout for Jeter’s final home game Thursday.

“[Back then], I was trying to figure out how he was going to help us,” Showalter said. “I knew he could run, steal a base, and we knew he could catch a ball. I mean, this was two years removed from making [56] errors at [Low-A] Greensboro. … It doesn’t surprise me, looking back on it, because who he is and how he does things. He’s made the Yankees easy to pull for.

So even though the Orioles still have a chance at the AL’s best record and home-field advantage throughout the postseason, Showalter savored the moment Thursday.

“We’re all competitive, but it does have some meaning,” Showalter said. “There’s so many things that happen that you realize how lucky you are to be there for that. His first hit, somebody’s first home run, obviously on a lesser scale, but you like to be able to say I was there for that. It reminds would how much of an honor it is every day to be up here.”

Despite Showalter’s history with the Yankees, he knows Jeter’s place as the Orioles’ top nemesis. From the infamous Jeffrey Maier home run in the 1996 AL Championship Series to countless plays since, he’s been a “real thorn” to the Orioles.

In his 20-year career, Jeter has the most multihit games (105) and runs scored (205) against the Orioles in history. His 351 career hits against the Orioles are second to Carl Yastrzemski’s 363. And his 70 doubles against the Orioles — he had an RBI double in the first inning Thursday — against are also second all-time to Yastrzemski.

“We’re all excited in Baltimore that he’s retiring,” Showalter said. “Trust, me, he’s been a real thorn in our side. Just take a good look because there aren’t many that are going to come your way like this again. It’s one of those things. He always seemed to dial up what the need was.

“Is it steal a base, is it hit a ball the other way? Is it get a bunt down instead of trying to hit a home run because we’re two runs down?”

Around the horn

Despite playing just 20 games in the second half before undergoing season-ending surgery on his right knee, third baseman Manny Machado’s jersey was the 12th most-popular since the All-Star break this season, according to MLB.com online sales. Center fielder Adam Jones had the 15th most-popular jersey in the second half. Also, Orioles merchandise sales through MLB.com and Orioles.com in September are up 854 percent over this time last season. … The Orioles recorded 15 or more hits in back-to-back games for the first time ever on the road against the Yankees on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Orioles have recorded 15 or more hits in consecutive games two times at home (May 26-July 3, 1956 and Aug. 24-25, 1962). … Right-hander Chris Tillman, scheduled to start Friday in Toronto, is 8-0 with a 4.19 ERA in 15 road starts this season, nine of which were quality starts. In 13 career starts against the Blue Jays, Tillman is 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA, and he is 2-3 with a 5.79 ERA in seven starts at the Rogers Centre.

eencina@baltsun.com

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