MINNEAPOLIS — Derek Jeter was a huge hit from the very start in his final All-Star game.
Batting leadoff for the American League, the 40-year-old shortstop for the New York Yankees soaked in an ovation that lasted more than a minute at Target Field, then seized the moment Tuesday night by hitting a double.
Jeter soon crossed the plate for the game’s first run. After three innings of action, he was ceremonially removed from his familiar position in the field to one more round of revering cheers as his mom, dad, sister and nephew watched from the stands.
The double was one of Jeter’s classic, opposite-field line drives to right.
He singled to right field in his next at-bat, too, raising his All-Star batting average to a robust .481 — 13 hits in 27 at-bats. That’s the second-best of all time for players with 20 or more at-bats, behind Charlie Gehringer.
OK, so maybe NL starter Adam Wainwright admitted he threw something juicy for Jeter to hit.
“I was going to give him a couple pipe shots,” the right-hander said. “He deserved it.”
Wainwright later said that he didn’t want to take away from Jeter’s first inning hit.
“It was mis-said,” the pitcher said in a television interview. “I hope people realize I’m not intentionally giving up hits out there.”
Jeter showed off in the field, too. In the top of the first, he made a slick, diving stop on Andrew McCutchen’s sharp groundball up the middle.
Jeter got to his feet and fired an on-target throw to first base, but the fleet-footed McCutchen was too fast, beating it out for a leadoff single.
McCutchen smiled and pointed at Jeter, who grinned back at the reigning NL MVP.
This was the 14th time Jeter was picked as an All-Star. When Jeter stepped to the plate, the crowd gave him a 63-second ovation, prompting him to wave, nod and tip his helmet several times.
Wainwright, who spoke the day before about how proud he would be to pitch to Jeter on this memorable occasion, backed up toward second base and left his glove on the mound so he could clap along with everyone else at the ballpark.