Ozzie, Cardinals pay tribute to Jeter

Hall of Famer on hand at Busch Stadium to present gift to retiring shortstop

Ozzie, Cardinals pay tribute to Jeter

ST LOUIS -- Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith put out his arms and embraced Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter at home plate.

Smith was a welcoming veteran in 1996 when Jeter was breaking into the Majors, just as he himself was headed for retirement. On Monday, Smith extended a welcome again, this time to St. Louis, yet another stop on Jeter's farewell tour.

"He's always treated me good, especially when I was a younger player," Jeter said of Smith. "He's a guy that I admire; I admire his career. When you're a young player, you remember how guys treat you, and Ozzie always treated me well."

Standing ovations from fans and gifts from organizations have marked each stop of Jeter's tour around the Majors during his final season. It continued at Busch Stadium on Monday, when the Cardinals honored him prior to the series opener.

Jeter was presented with Stan Musial cufflinks, as well as a $10,000 donation to his Turn 2 Foundation on behalf of the Cardinals organization.

The cufflinks, designed by local artist Don Wiegand, are not for sale to the public. They depict a bas relief of Musial that was commissioned to support the charitable efforts of the Wiegand Foundation in the 1990s.

"It's much appreciated," Jeter said of the sendoffs he has received. "It's not something that's expected, like I've said. I don't go in anticipating anything. The way the fans have treated me pretty much everywhere we've gone, it's something that I'll always remember. It's been overwhelming at times."

Prior to Monday, Jeter played three regular-season games in St. Louis during his 20-year career; the Cardinals won two of three at the previous Busch Stadium in 2005. Jeter also played here as an American League All-Star in 2009, one of 13 All-Star appearances.

Monday marked a special moment as the two historic franchises met again.

"There's a lot of history and a lot of tradition here in St. Louis," Jeter said. "This is a baseball town. Everywhere you go, you see Cardinals stuff. It's a fun place to play from what I understand, what people have told me."

Jeter, meanwhile, continued to draw compliments from those who have watched his career from afar. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who was in the Majors for 10 seasons during Jeter's career, was among those who greeted him at the plate on Monday.

"It's very impressive, actually, to be in that market, under that microscope, and to carry himself and be such a great ambassador for the game," Matheny said. "He's got a lot to be proud of."

Cardinals reliever Randy Choate, who played in New York from 2000 to 2003, watched Jeter's work up close for parts of four seasons. And although Jeter's 3,362 career hits -- the most by a shortstop -- stand out to many, for Choate, Jeter's legacy is about more than numbers.

"He wanted to be a Yankee from the time he was drafted," Choate said. "I don't want to say he acts appropriate, but that's probably the best way to put it. He comes in, doesn't get in trouble, goes about it the right way. You don't find him doing things he shouldn't be doing. He's always appropriate, and he leads by example.

"When you play with him, you want to play like him. He's just always done it right."

Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.