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Derek Jeter’s Last Stop with New York Yankees Against Detroit Tigers Has Special Significance

August 26th, 2014 at 10:26 AM
By Max DeMara

For months, retiring New York Yankees' captain Derek Jeter has gotten the royal treatment from coast to coast exactly as he should.

Along the way, he's received gifts, standing ovations and support from friends and rivals alike as he plays out his last season in the big leagues. This particular last stop for Jeter, though, will probably prove more sentimental for both Detroit Tigers' fans and the shortstop himself, and tug at the heart strings of each.

Famously, while he wasn't born in Michigan, Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo, living there through his youth. He excelled at Kalamazoo Central High School, and had his star not burned so eminently bright, he may have stuck around and decided to attend the University of Michigan to play baseball. Instead he was drafted by the Yankees, and the rest, as they say, quickly became history.

Even though Jeter's stay in the state was elongated but still temporary, he's always felt like a Michigander at heart. When the Tigers teams of the 1990's weren't excelling, fans could still watch Jeter and feel a sense of pride in his accomplishments, something their state had helped cultivate. As the better Tigers' teams competed against Jeter during the 2006, 2011 and 2012 playoffs, there was a sense of palpable excitement after being able to beat the best.

Interestingly enough, Jeter also bridges the gap between old and new with scores of Detroit fans as one of the few players that played in both Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park, watching games at the former as a child. That's a dying breed in baseball, and something which will draw him plenty of extra eyes and press this week. Jeter himself played in 1999 when the stadium made its own farewell tour, hosting New York for the last time.

So with all these factors considered, it will be extra difficult for most to say goodbye to Jeter. He's been a mainstay in the league for seasons and someone though he never played in Detroit, Tigers' fans have always felt a special connection with. Though he plays for the most notable baseball team in the world, he's been humble, quiet and hard working throughout, best embodying the state where he once lived.

Best of all, he hasn't stopped giving back to his former state or forgotten folks at home who need his support. Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation has a special branch in West Michigan doing great things for the community. He's established three scholarships within that branch, and also conducts numerous clinics, activities and programs, tying him to Michigan forever.

With that knowledge, expect this week to be extra special for Jeter, the Tigers and fans of both. The Captain is saying goodbye, and expect to see him and his fans get just a touch more sentimental thanks to his deep Michigan roots.

Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.

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