Derek Jeter’s dramatic Yankee Stadium farewell, you might remember, didn’t go down as his last appearance in a major league uniform. Two more brief appearances at Fenway Park followed before the Yankees captain, set to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, hung up his spikes.
Ironically enough, however, that magical night in The Bronx did feature someone who would never again compete in the big leagues: the pitcher who allowed Jeter’s walk-off single.
“It was a pretty damn incredible moment in sports,” Evan Meek told The Post in a telephone interview Sunday. “I could tell you I didn’t really want to be remembered that way, but baseball’s bigger than all of us, it was a really cool moment to be a part of.”
Meek, 36, lives in Chattanooga, Tenn., is married with two young children and works for an energy company after pitching in parts of six major league seasons. The right-hander made the 2010 National League All-Star team as a member of the Pirates, tallying a 2.14 ERA in 70 games.
The next season, Meek suffered a right shoulder injury and his velocity and results declined. The Pirates let him go after 2012 and he spent all of 2013 with the Rangers’ Triple-A Round Rock affiliate before returning to the majors with the Orioles in 2014. On Sept. 25, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter inserted him in the ninth inning of a 5-5 game that just happened to center around Jeter’s last call.
Rookie Jose Pirela knocked a leadoff single and Brett Gardner bunted pinch-runner Antoan Richardson over to second. Up stepped Jeter.
“It was the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in. It was so, so loud,” Meek said. “It was a first-pitch cutter that stayed up and didn’t really cut. He did what Derek Jeter does.”
That would be a ground-ball single to right field, scoring Richardson, ending the game and providing Jeter with a fitting pinstriped finale. Meek pitched in the minor leagues for another year and a half, spending time in Korean ball and winding up in the independent Atlantic League, before retiring in the middle of 2016.
“I don’t know if anybody would like to tell you that ‘Yeah, I’m happy with my last pitch,’ ” he said. “Personally, I would’ve loved to have made it back and continued to get outs. When you get out of the game, you miss the competition, you miss the dirt, you miss the grass, you miss the smells of the stadium, the me-versus-you kind of thing.”
He doesn’t mind, though, getting remembered for his connection to an imminent Hall of Famer.