NEW YORK – With their playoff position secured, the New York Yankees took a few moments Tuesday night to salute Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera for milestone achievements this season.
Jeter and Rivera were presented with a bounty of special gifts during a ceremony behind home plate before the Yankees played the Kansas City Royals. Jeter broke Lou Gehrig’s franchise record for hits with No. 2,722 on Sept. 11. Rivera reached 500 saves on June 28.
Surrounded by the entire squad, longtime teammates Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada spoke from a podium set up in front of the Yankees’ dugout.
“I’m really proud that I got a chance to play with you,” Posada said. “I think you guys represent what the Yankees are all about.”
Pettitte said the Yankees chipped in for paintings of the two players that were given to them. He pointed out that Jeter and Rivera probably were uncomfortable with all the individual attention.
“You guys haven’t changed from Day 1. Y’all deserve it,” Pettitte said. “Obviously, we are so proud of y’all. It has been a privilege and an honour to play alongside of y’all.”
Rivera’s family was on hand for a ceremony that lasted about 25 minutes. So were former teammates Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Tim Raines and David Cone, as well as Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Yogi Berra.
Jeter was given home plate and first base, both encased, from the night he surpassed Gehrig. The captain also received the two seats he crashed into while making his famous diving catch against Boston in 2004, and a sign he cherished from the old Yankee Stadium.
The sign, which hung in the narrow runway that led from the clubhouse to the New York dugout, featured a quote from Joe DiMaggio that read: “I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee.”
Rivera was given the bullpen bench from the old Yankee Stadium and the Citi Field pitching rubber from the night he earned save No. 500 against the New York Mets across town.