The wave of tributes to Derek Jeter came and went at Fenway Park Sunday afternoon during his final major league game. In the midst of them all was this video tribute from Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart and Chris Rock (courtesy “Funny or Die”), played on the center field video board:

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In the end, he was ready to cross the finish line.

Derek Jeter salutes the crowd at Fenway Park during a pregame tribute that preceded his final major league contest. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Derek Jeter salutes the crowd at Fenway Park during a pregame tribute that preceded his final major league contest. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

In the end, he was ready to cross the finish line.

Derek Jeter acknowledged that, after the nearly overwhelming emotion that accompanied his final Yankee Stadium contest on Thursday, he gave some consideration to never playing again, to sitting out the entirety of his team’s final three games of the year against the Red Sox in Fenway Park. But ultimately, he decided that while he wouldn’t play shortstop, he was ready to complete his career in Boston, with two at-bats in the final two games of the season.

“A lot of fans told me that they came a long way to see these last games and I felt it was right to play here,” said Jeter. “Don’€™t think I didn’€™t think about it, I thought about it.”

Sunday marked the final game of a disappointing season for the Red Sox, but the focus of the afternoon was primarily on Jeter as he played in the final game of his stellar 20-year career.

After an extravagant pre-game ceremony that included appearances from the likes of Carl Yastrzemski, Bruins legend Bobby Orr, former Celtic Paul Pierce and former Patriot star Troy Brown (among many others), Jeter served as the DH for two at-bats, ending his career on an infield single that drove in a run.

Jeter said that the plan was to get a couple of at-bats, regardless of the results. But he was glad to collect a hit in his final plate appearance, even if it was just an infield chopper.

“I would have loved to hit a home run like everyone else, but getting hits is not easy to do,” Jeter said. “My first at-bat I hit a line drive [to shortstop Jemile Weeks], unfortunately it was caught, but I feel a whole lot better getting a hit. I don’€™t care how far it goes, where it goes — I have no ego when it comes to hits. It’€™s either a hit or an out. I’€™ve gotten a lot of hits like that throughout my career and they all count the same.”

With one more hit this season, Jeter could have tied Ty Cobb‘s record of 19 consecutive 150-hit seasons. But the record wasn’t all that important to the 40-year-old.

“I wasn’€™t aware of [the record] until [manager] Joe [Girardi] told me this morning. But I never played this game for numbers, so why start now?” Jeter said. “With one more hit I would have tied Cobb’€™s record but I’€™m tied with Hank Aaron, that’€™s enough for me.”

After his single on Sunday, Jeter was lifted for a pinch runner. On his way off the field, he stopped at the mound to talk to Clay Buchholz, who will remain the last pitcher to ever face Jeter.

“When I ran past him, I said I know that this is kind of odd, but I just wanted to say I’€™ve enjoyed competing against you over the years and good luck to him,” Jeter said. “I had an opportunity to speak to everyone on the Boston team [in the pre-game ceremony] but obviously not him because he was warming up, so I just took a brief moment to tell him that.”

The pre-game festivities included the entire 2014 squad (sans Buchholz and catcher David Ross, who were in the bullpen) lining up to shake hands with the Yankees shortstop. Also on the agenda was the presentation of gifts (including a pinstriped base, scoreboard sign and a donation to Jeter’s foundation) and the inclusion of all three of the Red Sox’ living captains: Yastremzski, Jim Rice and Jason Varitek.

“[The ceremony] was unbelievable. I didn’€™t know anything about it or what was going to happen or who was going to be here,” Jeter said. “All the things they’ve done, it was hard to envision because this is a place where we’ve been an enemy for a long, long time and for them to flip the script this last time coming here it made me feel extremely proud and happy I was a part of this rivalry.”

Perhaps one of the most memorable aspects of the day was the way that, for one game, the feelings of animosity that exist between Red Sox and Yankees fans seemed to take a backseat to appreciation for Jeter’s career. The crowd was filled with fans of both teams, and a “Der-ek Je-ter” chant broke out amongst the packed house multiple times.

“I’€™ve been a part of some chants here at Fenway Park, but I don’€™t know if any of them were good,” Jeter said.

Regardless of what team they were rooting for or which side of the rivalry fans were on, it seemed that, at least for one day, they were united in one feeling: respect for Jeter.

“I€’ve been here for parts of 20 years, and whether you’€™re a Yankee fan or you’€™re not, if you want us to win or you want us to lose, you have good or bad memories, there’€™s a pretty good chance that I was a part of it,” Jeter said. “What I mean by that is I took a lot of pride in playing every game, I missed some but I took a lot of pride in doing my job and going out there every day and I think if you do that, people may respect you, they might not necessarily like you or root for your team, but they have respect for you.”

He returned the respect by playing on Sunday and by saluting Red Sox players and fans at Fenway Park with a final tip of the helmet as he jogged off the field one final time after his infield hit in the third. By the time he arrived in the dugout, he was ready for the finality of the moment.

“My emotions were so over the place on Thursday in New York, when I got here I was ready, I was ready for my career to be over with,” said Jeter. “I’€™m happy I had the opportunity to come and play here for a couple of games. I’€™m ready for this to be the end.”

Blog Author: 
Katie Morrison

The long, painstaking, sometimes interminable procession to the finish line finally sputtered to its conclusion.

The long, painstaking, sometimes interminable procession to the finish line finally sputtered to its conclusion. With a 9-5 loss to the Yankees, the Red Sox wrapped up a 71-91 campaign that represents both a disappointment and embarrassment for the team that still claims the title, at least for another month, of reigning champions.

The record did not fall to the same depths as 2012 (69-93), nor did the atmosphere assume the quality of a daily train wreck, but the reality of the record is hard to hide from.

“We didn’€™t anticipate the final record, but you play the games to determine that and it is where we are. We’€™ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of that has already begun. When we took the field on Feb. 15, this is not what we envisioned,” said manager John Farrell. “We know where our shortcomings have been this year. We have a clear to-do list. How we get to that point remains to be seen.”

Farrell did suggest there are elements of the roster that offer some promise going forward, and he believes that there are participants to the decision-making process who likewise offer the possibility of changing course.

“With all people involved we’€™re confident we’€™ll achieve that. There’€™s a number of good things in place right now in terms of guys on this roster,” said the manager. “We’€™ve got some meetings starting the second week of the offseason to put together our in-depth review of where we stand and begin to strategize how we’€™re going accomplish the objectives set out.”

Still, the fact that Farrell’s October now includes plans for fishing on the Cape followed by meetings about how to move on from this year’s struggles represents a form of finality to games that he does not relish.

“That today was the final game, we knew that for a while,” Farrell said. “That’€™s not something that sits well because of what our expectations are every year so it’€™s disappointing. The game of baseball has been put to bed for the time being, like I said, it’€™s not what we anticipated.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Joe Castiglione does his annual wrap-up of the season by reading the poem by Bart Giamatti.

[0:00:03] ... this this year -- traditionally is started by -- Late great partner Red Sox hall of Famer Ken Coleman from. A. Bartlett Giamatti is glorious pro who's. A great team and glorious team from green fields ...
[0:00:56] ... most it stops. The 2014. Season has come to ending for the Boston Red Sox. And we thank our great fans at New England once again our wonderful listeners. For their loyalty. And we'll talk to you ...

Joe Castiglione does his annual wrap-up of the season

For most in attendance, including those on the field, the reason to care about the 162nd game of a very, very long season boiled down to this:

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For most in attendance, including those on the field, the reason to care about the 162nd game of a very, very long season boiled down to this:

Beyond the final at-bat of the magnificent career of Derek Jeter, however, there were other important final notes to the season in the Sox’ 9-5 loss to the Yankees that dropped the curtain on a 71-91 last-place campaign. Among them:

– Aside from the four-run third inning that included the last hit of Jeter’s career (an infield chopper to third), Clay Buchholz pitched adequately through six innings, allowing five hits and walking one while punching out four. But his season ends with a cover-your-eyes 5.34 ERA. Among the 395 pitchers in Red Sox history who have had enough innings in a season to qualify for an ERA title, Buchholz’s mark ranks 388th. The Sox saw enough down the stretch, and they have enough holes ahead of him in the rotation, that a combination of belief and necessity will dictate that they rely on Buchholz to be a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter for them next year. Perhaps with the benefit of a fully healthy offseason, he will be able to claim such a role. And it’s worth noting that he’s responded to adversity at other points in his career, including recovering from a horrific rookie year (6.75 ERA) in 2008 to become a rotation staple by the second half of the following year. Still, there’s a considerable amount of uncertainty about who he is going forward.

– Left-hander Craig Breslow, whose season seemingly represented a case study in the toll of the workload to win a 2013 title, allowed five runs on five hits in what could have been his final appearance with the Sox. The Sox hold a 2015 option for $4 million on his services, but given his struggles this year (5.96 ERA, .319 opponents’ batting average), it seems unlikely that the team would pick it up. That should not diminish the essential role he played in winning a championship, serving as the primary setup man for Koji Uehara in a 2013 season when he served as arguably the only reliable bridge to the Sox closer.

David Ross likewise appeared in what may have been his final game for the Sox, going 0-for-2. He hit .184 with a .628 OPS this year, after a 2013 season that saw him emerge as the Sox’ postseason anchor behind the plate. His two-year, $6.2 million deal has reached its conclusion, and the Sox appear to seek a more natural complement for Christian Vazquez than Ross, who hits right-handed (like Vazquez) and who has struggled to deliver consistently reliable offense.

– Burke Badenhop made his career-high 70th appearance of the year, pitching a scoreless inning that included a strikeout. His 2.29 ERA was the best by any member of the Sox with at least 30 innings. He’s a free agent. Manager John Farrell has said that the team would like to retain him, and Badenhop has said he’d like to be back.

– Mookie Betts punctuated an extremely impressive rookie run, going 2-for-4 with a double and stealing a base. The steal was his seventh of the year in the majors and his 40th overall between Double-A, Triple-A and the big leagues. He was one of two players in all of professional baseball this year (joining Chad Hinshaw) with at least 15 homers (Betts had 16 across three levels) and 40 steals this year. The Sox now view him as virtually untouchable, a top-of-the-order hitter with dynamism matched by few in the game.

– Rusney Castillo reached base two more times, going 1-for-3 with a single and getting hit by a pitch. He hit .333 with a .928 OPS in his first exposure to the big leagues. The combination of his multi-faceted skill set with that of Betts offers the potential to transform a Red Sox lineup that lacked dynamism or positive results in 2014.

– Catcher Dan Butler drove in a pair of runs with a bases-loaded double, the first RBIs of his career. (A third run scored on the play on an error.)

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Brian Butterfield

Brian Butterfield

As former and current Red Sox players honored Derek Jeter at Fenway Park prior to the final game of his 20-year career, it was the presence of Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield that had special significance.

Butterfield has an interesting history with the Yankees superstar. He first coached Jeter in the instructional league after Jeter was taken in the first round of the 1992 draft. He worked closely with Jeter on his defense after the shortstop committed 56 errors in his first full professional season, and Jeter has given Butterfield credit for helping him become a major league shortstop.

The Red Sox third base coach says that even though they’re not as close anymore, it’s been meaningful to be a part of Jeter’s final season.

“There’€™s been a lot of distance between Derek and I. I was blessed to have crossed paths with him, it was a long time ago,” Butterfield said. “I don’€™t have his phone number, he doesn’t have mine, we don’€™t stay in touch in the offseason, but when we do cross paths, because he’€™s such a respectful guy, he had a tremendous upbringing, he always makes a point to say something or come over and get on me about something from shortstop when I’€™m over at third base. I think we’ve always had a good relationship, I’€™m very thankful for that.”

Though it’s been more than 20 years since Butterfield first worked with Jeter in the minors, he still has fond memories of working with the shortstop.

 “I’€™d be so excited, telling my wife and my young son at the time [about] this kid that I had an opportunity to work with,” Butterfield said. “I couldn’t wait to get to wake up the next morning and watch him work and hear what he had to say and watch what he did. It really was a lot of fun, it was a great experience, a much greater experience for me than him.”

It’s only fitting that Butterfield, who was present for Jeter’s first game as a major leaguer, was also able to participate in Jeter’s finale. He says while he doesn’t remember everything about the 40-year-old’s early career, he recalls his debut.

“I do remember him as a young guy,” said Butterfield. “I remember his major league debut in Seattle, and his dad sitting right behind me. It was the first time I’€™d ever seen his dad a little bit uneasy, he was kind of leaning in at the edge of his seat. I yelled over at him and I said, ‘Would you relax?’€ He started laughing. There are some flashes of when he was young.”

Rather than asking the superstar for his autograph, Butterfield left a personal gift of his own for Jeter.

“[I had a] baseball I’€™d taken over that I signed for him, I thought I’€™d write something humorous on it,” Butterfield said on Friday, when the Yankees came to town. “When he gets here, there will be a ball in a sanitary sock in his locker that’€™s from me. I think it’€™ll make him laugh.”

Butterfield had a small part in the ceremony, with the Maine native presenting Jeter with a pair of L.L. Bean boots (made in Maine, fittingly) with the Yankee emblem. But aside from the participation in the festivities, Butterfield said he just wanted to watch Jeter play for one last time — making him very similar to the sold-out crowd at Fenway Park.

Blog Author: 
Katie Morrison