Bud Selig’s 22-year reign as commissioner will end Sunday, and while it’s had its share of negative moments — among them the 1994 work stoppage and the steroid era — it also had Derek Jeter.
Perhaps that’s why Selig anticipated his visit to Yankee Stadium more than any of his other trips on a final swing around baseball.
“It’s a privilege to say thank you to Derek and what a storybook career it’s been,” Selig said. “I’ve said it a lot and I know this embarrasses him and I don’t want it to but how lucky have we been and I’ve been that the face of baseball through the past two decades, through ups and downs, has been Derek Jeter.”
Selig presented Jeter with a gold trophy called the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award. It has been around since 1998 and was the same trophy given to Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera last year.
“It means a lot,” Jeter said. “For the commissioner to take time and present me with this award, I’ve always had the utmost respect for him throughout my career. Our careers have paralled and this is the only commissioner that I’ve played under. We’ve had a great relationship throughout the years and for him to take the time to present me with this award that hasn’t been handed out too much, it’s something that I’ll definitely cherish.”
Selig also presented Jeter with a $222,222.22 check to his Turn 2 Foundation.
During his lengthy press conference, Selig reaffirmed his thoughts on Jeter, especially compared to the many negative things the game went through.
“I’ve been through a lot the last 22 or 23 years and I can’t tell you how much I look forward to what I just did,” Selig said of honoring Jeter. “I told his parents, and they’ve heard this from me before, they did a remarkable job in a tough era of raising a great young man and I said to the Yankee people today, we’ve been lucky in our lifetime. Our great heroes have been really great.”
Selig has presented Jeter with World Series trophies in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. He also presented him with the Roberto Clemente Award during the 2009 World Series and MVP awards for the 2000 World Series and All-Star Game.
After retirement, Jeter has expressed aspirations of becoming an owner, which Selig was in Milwaukee when he took over the commissioner’s role. Prospective ownership groups must get approval from the other owners, but Selig is looking forward to seeing Jeter run a team.
“I hope so,” Selig said. “He’d be fabulous. It’s no secret about it. I’ve told him this and I’m going to tell him again — anything I can do to help him, I will do. I think that much of him. He’s thoughtful. He understands the sport. It’d be a great thing in every way.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.