2 sweet: Yanks retire Jeter's iconic number

2 sweet: Yanks retire Jeter's iconic number

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter will forever be remembered as a Yankee, and now it's official: No. 2 will always belong to The Captain.

A star-studded group of invitees assembled in the center of the Yankee Stadium infield on Sunday afternoon to cheer on the longtime Yankees captain as he took his rightful place in Monument Park, honored with the retirement of his iconic uniform number.

"I got a chance to play for a first-class organization and in front of the greatest fans in the history of sports," Jeter said. "When you play here in New York for 20 years, I learned that time flies, memories fade, but family is forever. And I'll be eternally grateful to be part of the Yankees family."

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With large No. 2's painted along both baselines, Jeter opened his remarks by thanking George Steinbrenner and his family for allowing him to spend his entire career with the only organization he ever wanted to play for, as well as the managers, coaches and support staff who helped him on that journey.

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Joined in Monument Park by grandmother Dorothy Connors, parents Charles and Dorothy, wife Hannah, sister Sharlee and nephew Jalen, Jeter officially took No. 2 out of circulation by removing a black sheet that covered the last of the team's single-digit uniform numbers.

The 22nd Yankee to have his number retired, Jeter said that he specifically requested Mother's Day so he could pay tribute to his loved ones.

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"I have a very special relationship, not only with my mother, but my entire family," Jeter said. "I chose Mother's Day and then the first thing my dad said was, 'What are we doing on Father's Day?' My mom especially has been very supportive, ever since I was younger, and not just playing baseball."

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Those on hand to applaud the five-time World Series champion's career included former teammates David Cone, Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Paul O'Neill, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams and Gerald Williams, plus longtime manager Joe Torre.

"It's very fitting, for a guy that did everything for this organization, a guy that really was the leader of our group," Posada said. "It's the end of an era. He's probably the last guy. He's it. He's the last one."

"It's something precious," Rivera added. "You don't see this too often. It doesn't happen to any player. It has to happen to a special player, and he's one of those players."

Former teammates on Jeter

Also in attendance were Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, former Yankees player and coach Willie Randolph, Yankees VP of player development Gary Denbo (Jeter's first pro manager at Class A Greensboro), Dick Groch, the area scout who signed Jeter, former head athletic trainer Gene Monahan and Jean "Soot" Zimmer, the wife of former Yankees coach Don Zimmer.

"Derek being out there, we all knew it was coming, let's be real about that," Martinez said. "It was just a matter of when. He's up there as one of the greatest Yankees of all-time, probably the greatest Yankee of our generation."

Yankees legends introduced

As the ceremony began, the packed house broke into chants of "De-rek Je-ter!" chants while several video tributes played on the scoreboard. The iconic moments rolled by: Mr. November, 'The Flip,' emerging bloodied from the stands, homering to join the 3,000 hit club, the walk-off in his final home game.

"There is one thing that stands out to me on the field for Derek Jeter," Pettitte said. "If you ever needed a big hit, especially in the playoffs, Derek was the absolute best at handling those at-bats, like I've never seen anyone handle them before. For me, he's the greatest clutch hitter that I've ever seen."

Torre discusses Jeter's impact

Jeter and his family were driven to the field in golf carts, accompanied by Frank Sinatra's "My Way," and the Yankees played a congratulatory video message from Marlins manager and former Yankee captain Don Mattingly. Jeter laughed as he unveiled his plaque, then said he was pleased by the likeness.

"When Bernie had his, he had a big mole," Jeter said. "When Jorge had his, he had the big ears. Andy had the big nose. So I was happy with mine."

Jeter on his feelings

The Steinbrenner family gifted Jeter framed replicas of his plaque and number, plus a one-of-a-kind career milestone diamond ring. Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran presented Jeter with a Monument Park blazer, an idea the former Yankee bounced off of club brass last season.

"I thought it was great. The fans were obviously really into it," Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said. "Obviously it was a special moment for Derek and his family. It was very well deserved, and I'm happy that I was able to witness it."

A 14-time American League All-Star, Jeter is sixth all-time with 3,465 career hits and tops the Yankees' all-time list in hits, games played (2,747), doubles (544), stolen bases (358), at-bats (11,195), singles (2,595) and hit-by-pitches (170).

Jeter's first pitch

"People get a kick out of asking me, 'Who was the best player you every managed?'" Torre said. "And, Derek, it's an easy choice for me. And the interesting part about it -- I managed for 30 years and I can bet you probably every single one of those other players I managed never resented that because of the kind of player he was."

Born in New Jersey and raised in Kalamazoo, Mich., Jeter played his franchise-record 20th and final season in 2014. He said that he arrived at his old workplace with no preconceived notions about how the day would go, and left feeling that it had gone better than he could have imagined.

"This is one of those special days that you'll never forget," Jeter said. "When you have this dream of playing baseball and playing for the Yankees, having your number retired is never part of it. This is all icing on the cake for me."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.