CHICAGO — Derek Jeter ended up sticking with No. 2, but it wasn’t his first choice.
In fact, at the start, it wasn’t his choice at all.
Long before becoming one of the most iconic players in Yankees’ history, The Captain made his major-league debut on May 29, 1995 in Seattle.
“You’re walking in the clubhouse, you’re scared to death, you’re nervous and you’re intimated,” Jeter told the YES Network in “Derek Jeter: Moments, Memories & Monument” — a half-hour sit-down interview with Jack Curry that will premiere on Monday night following its coverage of the Yankees-Reds game.
“The last thing I looked at was the number on my jersey. I said it time and time again: I think they gave it to me because it was the smallest uniform.”
The Yankees are retiring Jeter’s No. 2 — the last single-digit number to be retired by the franchise — on May 14 before their Mother’s Day game against the Astros, and a plaque in his honor will be unveiled in Monument Park during the ceremony.
“When I was younger, I wanted to wear No. 13 because my dad wore 13,” Jeter said during the interview. “Obviously Jim Leyritz was wearing it and I think the clubhouse attendant at the time thought I wanted a different number. So going into spring training in 1997, they were going to give me No. 17, and then I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Nah, I’m going to stick with No. 2.’ It was a good choice on my part.”
Jeter finished his future Hall of Fame career, which spanned 20 years, with five World Series titles, 14 All-Star appearances and 3,465 hits.
“No, you never look at that far into the future,” Jeter said when asked to reflect on the upcoming moment. “Obviously, I had a dream to play for the Yankees. Once you get there, you just want to stay there as long as possible. If you do it long enough and you’re consistent, good things happen. But I still can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like having my number retired.”
Asked to envision it, Jeter replied: “I don’t know. I want to go in with no preconceived notions whatsoever. I don’t want to try to think about what it may feel like or what I’m going to say or what I’m going to do. I just want to go and enjoy it.
“A lot of times when I was playing, I never really sat back and tried to enjoy the moment. I was always thinking, ‘What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?’ Well, there’s nothing next after this, so I just want to sit back and enjoy it.”