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Derek Jeter remembers his time in Michigan, especially that bad called strike

Derek Jeter in 2009.
Keith Allison
Derek Jeter in 2009.

The New York Yankees are in town, and the player who has been a Yankee longer than any other is being celebrated by opposing fans.

Derek Jeter plans to retire from the game at the end of this season, and during what could be his last visit to Comerica Park, Michigan has come out to celebrate the player who grew up in Kalamazoo.

With Jeter in town, there's a lot being written about Jeter.

But Jim Baumbach at Newsday wrote a piece in 2012 that gives us a look at Jeter's path from Kalamazoo to the New York Yankees.

"When I grow up, I'm going to be a shortstop for the New York Yankees." - Derek Jeter in the 4th grade

How did he make it into the Big Leagues?

It seems he always knew he would be there. Just ask his fourth grade teacher from St. Augustine Cathedral School:

His back to the chalkboard, Jeter faced his two dozen classmates and spoke the words that stuck with the teacher for nearly 30 years. "When I grow up, I'm going to be a shortstop for the New York Yankees." "It was something you sort of just knew was going to happen," said Garzelloni, 76, who retired as a teacher in 1998 and has remained active at the school since.

Does Jeter remember his time in Kalamazoo. Of course he does, and Baumbach recounts a subject that came up when Jeter visited Kalamazoo:

The last time Jeter returned to Kalamazoo was for the baseball field-naming ceremony. And he showed that he still has a keen memory of his high school days. With Jeter on the dais, coach Zomer, 69, read his senior year statistics aloud. "I mentioned he had one strikeout and that was a bad call," Zomer said. "And then it was quiet and Derek said, 'And that's correct,' and everyone laughed."

Newsday contacted the ump who made the call against Jeter, Dick Bird, who was 58 at the time they contacted him. 

"I've never had the chance to talk with him after that, but I've always wanted to tell him in person that I might have missed the pitch," Bird said. "I figured he might get a laugh out of that."

To which Jeter later responded, "He knows he missed it. I swing at everything. If it was close, I'm swinging at it. I've always been that way."

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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