(Updated Jan. 21, 2020)
Ozzie Smith welcomed Derek Jeter as a peer among baseball’s best shortstops.
In 2014, when Jeter came to St. Louis with the Yankees for the last time as a player, he was embraced by Smith in a pre-game ceremony near home plate at Busch Stadium.
Smith, who won 13 Gold Glove awards, including 11 with the Cardinals, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 in his first year on the ballot. Smith got 91.7 percent of the votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America.
On Jan. 21, 2020, Jeter was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. Jeter got 99.7 percent of the votes from the baseball writers.
After Jeter, 39, said 2014 would be his final season as Yankees shortstop, he was honored at each stop on the schedule.
The Yankees came to St. Louis for a three game series May 26-28 in 2014.
Jeter had played against the Cardinals in 2003 at Yankee Stadium and in 2005 at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis. The 2014 visit was at the downtown ballpark that opened in 2006.
Before the Memorial Day series opener in 2014, the Cardinals presented Jeter with cuff links bearing the likeness of franchise icon Stan Musial. The Cardinals also gave Jeter a $10,000 donation to his Turn 2 Foundation. According to its Web site, the foundation “strives to create outlets that promote and reward academic excellence, leadership development and positive behavior” for young people.
Among those representing the Cardinals at the ceremony were Red Schoendienst, the Hall of Fame second baseman who wore the same uniform number (No. 2) as Jeter did, and Smith, the acrobatic fielder nicknamed The Wizard. Video
Smith “put out his arms and embraced” Jeter, MLB.com reported.
Smith’s last two seasons in the majors (1995-96) were Jeter’s first two.
“He’s always treated me good, especially when I was a younger player,” Jeter said. “He’s a guy that I admire. I admire his career. When you’re a young player, you remember how guys treat you. Ozzie always treated me well.”
Smith told the New York Post, “He’s probably been the perfect example of what a baseball player should be. Great ambassador for the game. He’s done it the right way.”
Cardinals reliever Randy Choate, Jeter’s teammate from 2000-2003 with the Yankees, said to MLB.com, “He leads by example. When you play with him, you want to play like him.”
In his first at-bat after the ceremony, Jeter singled and received a standing ovation. Boxscore
Jeter “was feted at every opportunity” during the three-game series, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Jeter started the first two games but sat out the third when the Yankees went with his backup, former Cardinal Brendan Ryan. In the seventh inning, Jeter got a standing ovation when the scoreboard camera showed him in the dugout. He responded by going to the top step and doffing his cap. Boxscore
“It’s much appreciated,” Jeter said. “It’s not something that’s expected.”
Hall of Fame stats
Jeter’s best performances against the Cardinals were in 2005 when he had five hits in 13 at-bats. His career batting mark versus St. Louis was .265 (9-for-34).
In 20 seasons (1995-2014) with the Yankees, Jeter won five Gold Glove awards and was named an American League all-star 14 times. One of his all-star appearances was the 2009 game in St. Louis.
Jeter produced a career batting mark of .310 and an on-base percentage of .377. He had 3,465 hits, including 544 doubles, with 1,311 RBI and 358 stolen bases.
Jeter has the most career hits of any shortstop.
According to MLB.com, the top six players all-time in career hits are Pete Rose (4,256), Ty Cobb (4,191), Hank Aaron (3,771), Stan Musial (3,630), Tris Speaker (3,515) and Jeter (3,465). Aaron is the only right-handed batter with more career hits than Jeter.
Jeter played in seven World Series and the Yankees won five of those. He had a World Series batting average of .321, with 50 hits in 38 games, and an on-base percentage of .384.