It’s no secret that Jose Feliciano is one of the biggest baseball fans in history. He’ll tell you the stats of the players – both past and present; the scores and standings of most of the teams plus the background and scuttlebutt of so much of what the game is all about…it’s pretty safe to say that Jose lives and breathes baseball 12 months a year – thanks, now especially, to MLB and the “Yes” Network. He truly and genuinely loves the game and everything about it so much, you can imagine what a rush it was for Jose to learn that his 1968 interpretation of the National Anthem at Tiger Stadium in Detroit is on permanent exhibit in Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown! “Imagine that! Cooperstown! Me: to be a little part of this game that I love so much…!”
Now, anyone in North America who follows Baseball (and assuredly, even those who don’t) know now that the beloved Captain of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter, played his last game today after 20 Seasons in Yankees pinstripes. His own stats speak for themselves; History has been made in Yankees Stadium and Derek Jeter will stand as a Beacon for generations to come. On and off the field, his extraordinary talent as well as his eloquence and grace, will be remembered not only in the Game of Baseball but on the World Stage as well, and the Feliciano Family are honored to have been able to meet up with Derek on several occasions.
The first time was when Dr. Mehmet Oz had invited Jose and our “Uncle” Bill Rother to join him with Frank Torre, on whom Dr. Oz had recently performed a heart transplant, and to sit in the Torre Suite to watch the game. Frank’s brother, Joe Torre, managed the Yankees at the time so they arrived early to enjoy the players’ batting practice. While Frank visited with his brother Joe, some of the players, including Derek Jeter, came over to greet Jose and Uncle Bill, Dr. Oz and the Skipper’s older brother, Frank.
Another time when the Feliciano Family was invited to a game, Derek and Jose chatted a few minutes in the clubhouse. Jose ultimately shared his favorite (and now, famous) “What do you do with an elephant who’s got 3 balls?” joke. Derek looked tentatively around the room at the female members of the family who were present and asked, “Ummm, what?” “Well, you WALK HIM and PITCH TO THE GIRAFFE!” Jose blurted out, receiving a roar of laughter throughout the clubhouse. Derek cracked a polite smile, patted Jose on the shoulder and retreated to the dugout and more batting practice…what else was there left to say?
Today, we can say this: you will be missed, Mr. Jeter. During the last 20 years you’ve been a part of millions of families, including ours and Baseball will never be quite the same without you on the field. God bless you as you turn the next page of your life. You’ll always have us here cheering for you…along with the elephant and the giraffe!
…a P.S. to all of the above:
This might be a good time to acknowledge a few individuals whose names always pop up in Jose’s mind and heart whenever a Yankees ballgame-event is called to mind. Whether it’s to perform on the field or to visit as a guest, the Yankees have always been over-the-top with Jose and his entourage.
He’s thinking about, first and foremost, the Steinbrenner Family who has graciously allowed him to participate on the field rendering both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” during the game several times over the past few years. Also, Jose wants to send special and personal greetings to Felix Lopez, Manny Garcia and Ray Negron, all of whom have become genuine friends to him well beyond the game. Thank you…
Finally, a word of gratitude to so many of the players –past and present–who have graciously taken the time to shake Jose’s hand and offer him their words of friendship; great athletes who’ve punctuated Jose’s life as an avid (rabid?) Fan and who, in turn, have shared their own stories of how Jose has touched their lives…
Baseball. The best game around.