BOSTON — Derek Jeter tacked one last hit onto his remarkable career, then waved his helmet in a final farewell to the major leagues.
Successful to the very end, the New York Yankees captain hit a high chop in the third inning that bounced off the right hand of leaping Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini. Jeter reached first without drawing a throw, and after a few seconds Brian McCann trotted from the dugout to pinch run.
Jeter got a standing ovation as he slowly ran off the field to complete his 20th big league season, pointed to the Boston dugout and embraced pitcher Clay Buchholz.
Approaching the Yankees dugout after the team’s last at-bat by a player with single-digit uniform number, the 40-year-old who has worn No. 2 since his rookie season lifted his helmet to recognize the cheers and was hugged on the warning track by Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner. Boston players stood in their dugout and applauded.
The ovation continued as others in his dugout congratulated their leader. Jeter’s parents watched from the stands.
In the middle of the seventh inning, Jeter’s former teammate Bernie Williams, who is also a classical guitarist, played a moving rendition of “Take me out to the ballgame,” to the delight of the Fenway faithful.
The final hit, Jeter’s 3,465th, left him with a .310 career batting average, raising it from 30945 to .30951. And it came at Fenway Park, the same field where Mickey Mantle played his finale exactly 46 years earlier.
Jeter had lined out to shortstop Jemile Weeks in the first inning.
The last active member of the Core Four that included Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, Jeter led the Yankees to 13 AL East titles, seven AL pennants and five World Series championships. He broke an ankle in the 2012 AL championship series opener and was limited to 17 games the following season. He dropped off this year to a .256 average with four homers and 50 RBIs.
Before the game, Jeter was congratulated by former captains of local pro teams. During a half-hour ceremony, Carl Yastrzemski and Jason Varitek of the Red Sox, Bobby Orr of the Bruins, Troy Brown of the New England Patriots and Paul Pierce of the Celtics came out of the Boston dugout, one after the other.
They shook hands with Jeter, standing on the grass just behind the dirt at shortstop.
At the start of the ceremony, the date “SEPTEMBER 28 2014″ was removed, one character at a time, from the hand-operated scoreboard on the left-field wall and replaced by “WITH RESPECT 2 DEREK JETER.” Then the “S” in “RESPECT” was replaced by the No. 2.
Jeter waved his cap as he left the dugout for his 153rd game at Fenway, including the playoffs, breaking a tie with Lou Gehrig and Mantle for most by a Yankee.
Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia presented a base with a No. 2 and blue pinstripes on it to Jeter. He also received a green sign with white characters like those on the Green Monster scoreboard saying “RE2PECT.”
A video was shown of Jeter being doused in the Yankees clubhouse as part of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” inspired by former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition Frates is afflicted with. Then Frates rode onto the infield grass in his wheelchair and Jeter came in to greet him.
Michelle Brooks Thompson, a Massachusetts native from the Voice TV show, sang “Respect” on the infield dirt then Jeter shook hands and hugged her.
Jeter sat out Friday’s series opener to recover from his emotionally draining final home game when his single in the ninth inning gave the Yankees a 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles and unleashed a wild celebration as teammates poured from the dugout to embrace him between first and second base.
The 14-time All-Star returned to the lineup as designated hitter on Saturday and went 1 for 2.
“The hard thing for me about this game is the relationships and how you get used to seeing people every day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “and how abruptly it ends.
“Since (he was) a young man signing, really a teenager, it’s really what he’s known. It’s what we’ve known him to be, the Yankees’ shortstop, and it’s hard to believe that it’s coming to an end.”
Before the game, Boston manager John Farrell praised Jeter for “a grace and a dignity, an integrity that probably is unmatched by others.”
Girardi had expected Jeter to receive a warm reception in enemy territory.
“Boston understands what Derek has meant to the Yankees playing him all these times,” Girardi said. “I think it will be done right.”
Jeter was cheered when he took batting practice and when he ran into his dugout when it was over.
HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports Writer
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