HOUSTON, TX – The Houston Astros were the first team to pass on Derek Jeter in the 1992 draft, and on Wednesday night, they became the first team to honor the future Hall-of-Famer’s career with a pre-game retirement ceremony.
After a short video tribute, Jeter was presented with a pair of pinstriped No. 2 Yankee cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and a set of golf clubs during the ceremony. As nice as the gifts were, the scene leading up to Jeter’s first at-bat was perhaps even more impressive. As the veteran shortstop walked to the plate, the Astros, led by manager Bo Porter, stepped out of their dugout and led the fans in a standing ovation. A smiling Jeter tipped his helmet and waived to the crowd before grounding out.
Though Jeter has only played one other series in Houston during his career, there was the potential to play many more had the Astros not passed on him in favor of Phil Nevin during that 1992 draft, allowing Jeter to fall to the New York Yankees.
On field with Astros owner Jim Crane and longtime play-by-play announcer Milo Hamilton were three former teammates of Jeter’s – Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Mike Stanton.
"I don't think he is crazy about it," Pettitte told reporters after the ceremony, noting that it would interrupt his pre-game routine.
"He knows he has to go through that," Pettitte added, "It is something he has got to do. He has been too great of a player and an ambassador for this game."
Before the Yankees’ season opener on Tuesday, Jeter kicked off his retirement tour at Clemens’ son’s restaurant, along with Clemens, President George H.W. Bush, his wife Barbara, and Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson. While Jeter and Clemens have enjoyed a friendship for almost 15 years, he had never met the former president and first lady.