Derek Jeter’s storybook career culminated with his election into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, but the five-time World Series champion with the Yankees was reminded Wednesday of the struggles his current team is having.
The 45-year-old is now the CEO of the Marlins, who are coming off a second-straight last-place finish in the NL East, while playing in front of the smallest crowds in the majors.
“It’s been a lot of fun down there losing,’’ Jeter said with a chuckle when asked how frustrating it was dealing with the results in South Florida since taking over the reins.
“The bottom line is, when you’re competing, you’re competing to win,” Jeter said during a Hall of Fame press conference at the St. Regis Hotel in Midtown on Wednesday. “We’ve taken on quite a challenge down there in Miami, but we look at it as being a huge opportunity. We believe in the fan base in Miami. We believe in the organization that were building. We understand it’s going to take some time. I preach patience even though I have none.”
And he understands why attendance has been low.
“It also takes time for the fan base to develop that trust for us,’’ Jeter said. “I can’t go down there and tell everyone to trust me. They don’t know me. It takes a little time for that. The only thing I said is I’m not gonna make any promises I can’t keep. And every promise we made, we’ve kept so far.”
He remains confident the Marlins will turn things around.
“I want to win as much as anyone,’’ Jeter said. “I didn’t get into this to lose. I could have stayed home and retired. … I got into this because I always wanted to give back to the game at the highest level and I wanted to build something we could be proud of and everybody in Miami can be proud of.”
Unlike Jeter, who spent his entire career with the Yankees, fellow 2020 inductee Larry Walker played for three teams and debated which hat to wear into the Hall. The Hall of Fame reserves the right to pick the team and Walker discussed it with officials there and chose Colorado, the team he spent the most time — and had the most success — with.
Walker was elected in his final year on the writers’ ballot, finally overcoming the belief by some that his offensive numbers were unfairly inflated by playing so many games in the thin air of Denver.
“I played in a hitters’ paradise in Colorado, but it was a major league baseball team,’’ Walker said.
Jeter and Walker will be inducted in July, alongside Ted Simmons and the late former union head, Marvin Miller.
Jeter didn’t just reflect on the titles he won with the Yankees, but also his final game in The Bronx, which he won with a game-winning single.
“The last game I played in New York was the only game I ever played in New York where we were eliminated [from playoff contention]. It shouldn’t have meant anything, but it was a playoff-like atmosphere. It was great to have one last magical moment.”
The Empire Stadium lit up in pinstripes with a No. 2 in the mast on Wednesday night in celebration of Jeter’s election to the Hall.