Friday, September 26, 2014

Umpires, on the Never-Ejected Derek Jeter: "Classy"

"[Derek Jeter] is probably the classiest person I’ve been around," said veteran umpire John Hirschbeck in 2009 after 3B Umpire Marty Foster's first-inning ejection of Yankees Manager Joe Girardi (7/6/09: Ejections: Marty Foster (1)) for arguing an out call at third base. The baserunner? Derek Jeter.

Jeter and plate umpire Mike Estabrook in NY.
Photo: Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports
Sliding into third base on an attempted steal against Toronto, Jeter appeared to avoid third baseman Scott Rolen's tag, though Rolen caught the throw far in advance of Jeter's slide. According to post game coverage, Jeter told Foster that Rolen did not tag him while he was off-base. Foster purportedly replied, "He didn't have to...The ball beat you." As Jeter was walked away, skipper Girardi confronted Foster and received his marching orders.

When asked for comment, crew chief Hirschbeck went out of his way to praise Jeter, telling the pool reporter, "It would make his actions seem appropriate if that’s what he was told." Jeter's actions, of course, were far tamer than his manager's.

FOX Sport's JP Morosi reached out to DL-confined umpire Tim McClelland, who wrote, "I have a lot of admiration for Derek and what he has accomplished both on and off the field. I would say that Derek is the one player that I respect most for the way he plays the game and carries himself, again, on and off the field. He has represented himself, the Yankees, and the game of baseball with honor, admiration, and dignity."

Derek Jeter finishes his MLB career having played the sixth-most games without ever having experienced an ejection as a player. Jeter's 2,745 regular season games played without ejection trails Hall of Famers Stan Musial (3,026), Willie Mays (2,992), Brooks Robinson (2,896), Robin Young (2,856) and Tony Perez (2,777).

ESPN reached out to additional veteran officials, who all agreed on Jeter's personal quality.

Randy Marsh: "Whatever you told Jeter to do, that's what he did. The guy was the gold standard in the way he conducted himself...I wish more players realized you can voice your opinion or show how you feel about a call without being demonstrative or confrontational."

Richie Garcia: "Whenever there was an argument or a tough situation on the field, there was always a guy on my crew I could look at, a guy I could trust and know what he was thinking just by looking into his eyes. Derek Jeter was like that. He wasn't on my team, but I could look at his reaction and body language and know where we stood...He also called me 'Mr. Garcia.' I kept telling him to call me 'Richie,' but it was always 'Mr. Garcia.'"

Don Denkinger: "Some guys need a scapegoat, but Derek Jeter never made it tougher to do your job. I always appreciated the way Jeter carried himself...The world is full of people who don't respect you and still play the game, and the majority of them are short on ability. Derek was the opposite of that."

Larry Young: "Derek carried himself with a lot of dignity even as a rookie...Even the guys who have good relationships with umpires, whether it's Wade Boggs or George Brett or Rod Carew, eventually get ejected. The fact that Derek never once lost it over 20 years says a lot about him...Most guys don't know when to quit arguing, but Derek always knew when to stop."

Chuck Meriwether: "If you called Derek out on strikes and he didn't like it, he would bow his head because he didn't want anyone in the stands seeing that he was really arguing. He didn't want to show you up with 40,000 people in the crowd and millions watching on TV, and as an umpire that made you feel good."


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