The New York Yankees said goodbye to Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera at the end of 2013, now they face the prospect of replacing Derek Jeter at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
Jeter, a 13-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, announced his upcoming retirement on his Facebook page today.
“As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle. The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward," Jeter wrote.
“It was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last. As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100% sure... Now it is time for the next chapter. I have new dreams and aspirations, and I want new challenges. There are many things I want to do in business and in philanthropic work, in addition to focusing more on my personal life and starting a family of my own."
Local fans reacted with a mix of respect, sadness and gratitude.
"Derek Jeter is the true personification of class," said Larry Glickstein, a lifelong Yankees fan. "He is a winner both on and off the field."
The Yankee captain missed nearly all of the 2013 season with a broken left ankle originally injured during the 2012 post-season.
"The first thing I thought of was to think of how lucky I was to watch him play for the past 20 years and to have had a chance to be in the locker room and congratulate him after the 2009 World Series," said Allen Gross, who was the guide for Ed Lucas, a blind baseball reporter who covers the Yankees. "He has been a special player."
"Calling Jeter a role model is a gross understatement. He certainly is a role model to today's youth." said Neil Kaufman, president of the Scotch Plains Fanwood Baseball League (SPFBL). "I think that many diehard Yankee fans like myself were in self-imposed denial that this day would come. At least we have one more season to watch him play. He will be greatly missed."