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National

Derek Jeter Leaves Yankee Stadium A Winner

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Derek Jeter ended his 20-year career at Yankee Stadium last night in classic fashion.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Bottom of the ninth, score tied, man on second.

CORNISH: The Yankee shortstop stepped up to the plate and hit a game-winning single in front of a sold-out crowd of 40,000 fans. Jim O'Grady of member station WNYC joined them.

JIM O'GRADY, BYLINE: You want Yankee fans? Take the D train to the Bronx before the game. Except the first one I find is from Boston.

BRITNEY HENDERSON: I'm actually a Red Sox fan but I can appreciate that he's an amazing player. So for him I'll wear some Yankees gear. (Laughter) It burns me a little inside but I'll do it.

O'GRADY: That's Britney Henderson. She attended the game with Alejandro Mora, who bought their tickets more than a year ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

O'GRADY: Did it cost a lot of money?

ALEJANDRO MORA: I don't think it has a value to those ticket.

O'GRADY: Except it does. What's the number? Want to say?

MORA: I can't.

O'GRADY: Why not?

MORA: Because for me Derek Jeter does not have a price.

O'GRADY: Which means you paid a ton of money?

MORA: I paid what it was worth.

O'GRADY: Not even rude questions could spoil Mora's mood.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVAL RECORDING)

O'GRADY: I heard that at the end of the game, the clouds over the stadium will part and Derek will be raptured up unto heaven to sit at the right hand of God. Is that true?

MORA: Just rumors.

O'GRADY: He was right. There was no rapturing. But this single game had an average reported ticket price of $830. For Brandon Aghamalian of Austin, Texas add to that the cost of airfare for himself, his wife and their five-year-old daughter Juliet.

BRANDON AGHAMALIAN: I wanted her to be able to say that she saw Derek Jeter play.

O'GRADY: They caught the second to last game as a family. But Aghamalian was going to this one by himself. When asked why a fan outside New York should care about Derek Jeter or buy into the idea that he's an ambassador of baseball, Aghamalian had an answer.

AGHAMALIAN: The fact that he's never been ejected from a game - you know, he never showed up opposing players. He always had the utmost respect for his teammates. He loved to compete. He loved to play against the best.

O'GRADY: The train pulls into 161st Street - Yankee Stadium. Outside Gate E is Marie Palladino, selling buttons.

MARIE PALLADINO: Two for five, one for three - who's the man? Jeter. Jeter.

O'GRADY: The buttons had a mash-up of the Yankees logo and Jeter's number two.

PALLADINO: The energy, the excitement, the sadness...

O'GRADY: Those were her operatic reasons for coming to the stadium. Palladino also had the inside scoop on Jeter's life after baseball.

PALLADINO: He's coming back, either as a manager - he's doing - he has something up his sleeve.

O'GRADY: You think?

PALLADINO: I think. I know.

O'GRADY: You know, it's weird when you were saying he's coming back like that, I thought you were talking about the Messiah.

PALLADINO: (Laughter) He is. No, I don't want - no, no, I can't go there.

O'GRADY: So there is a limit to worship of Derek Jeter. Or there was, until this happened in the bottom of the ninth.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Base hit to right field. Here comes Richardson. Here's the throw from Markakis. Derek Jeter ends his final game with a walk-off single.

O'GRADY: And now Yankee fans are revising their opinion of Derek Jeter upward yet again. For NPR News, I'm Jim O'Grady. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.