An Expat New Yorker Reflects on Derek Jeter and the Yankees


I’ve lived so many places now, I call everywhere home.

And this old away jersey has been with me for well over a decade, traveling with me to the Pacific Northwest, in Yankee-hating Seattle M’s territory, to the indifferent Texan city of Houston, where football passion eclipses baseball, and there are just as many Yankee jerseys as there are Astros. Wherever I lived, it picked up a stain here and there, and stayed faithful on my back, despite the looks I’d occasionally get from locals.

Since then, I’ve almost retired the jersey several times now, but something made me stay true to the Yankees, and last night I remembered exactly what. While I am no sports blogger, I got emotional enough to have to say something about Jeter’s last moments at home. Watch it for yourself:

Hats off to you Captain.

It’s the end of a dynasty, fall season for the Yankees, and spring will bring a new batch, a new crop, a new legacy to be born.

But for me, there’s something deeply sad and personal as I feel like I’m saying goodbye to the original ’96 Yankees dynasty.

At the time I admittedly jumped on the bandwagon, I was a college student in NYC, living in a dingy apartment. I was coming off a period of depression and turned to sports to take my mind of the terrible self-absorption. It proved helpful. You see, with depression you can’t just turn it off; I needed to rally back.

And that’s why it’s personal.

Seeing the scrappy team from nowhere (18 yr championship drought) play small ball and make it to the post season only to face the dominating Atlanta Braves in the Fall Classic, to be down 0-2, and to finally rally back – all of my hopes and fears were vested in these guys, and their story somehow became mine. I was intertwined. And as the shouts spontaneously erupted throughout the city, I found myself drawn in, lifted up, and the cloud had gone.

It would turn out to be a bright future – for all of us.

So looking back and seeing those old familiar faces again last night… Mo, Andy, Bernie, Tino, Posada, and not least of all Torre – all gathered round to congratulate Derek – and what got me choked up the most – they were all greying for crying out loud! Has it been that long (ago)?

And now I feel like I’ve become one of those keepers of a storied past, not unlike the old-timers who would go on and on about DiMaggio and Mantle, and Gehrig and Ruth. And I can’t help but ramble too. Because it was special to me. It was personal. Thanks Captain. Thank you for lifting me up when I needed it most.

I love my home now, and where I live here in Houston. But when I see you guys in those pinstripes, especially you #2, I am grateful that I was a New Yorker.

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

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