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Derek Jetter ends his career on a high note and in style. Winning against Baltimore last night.

via New York Times

It was the only way it could have ended, this remarkable 20-season career that was forged on clutch moments across years of winning. With the eyes of a city and a sport upon him, Derek Jeter smacked the winning hit in the final at-bat of his final home game.

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The ball squirted into right field, pushing home Antoan Richardson with one out in the ninth inning to give the Yankees a 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Jeter thrust both hands into the air as if he had just won a playoff game, and he was met on the basepaths by his onrushing teammates to celebrate the 1,627th regular-season victory of his career.

“From the all-time low to the all-time high,” said David Robertson, the Yankees’ closer, who blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning to set up the fairy-tale ending.

“Don’t cry,” he said.

Jeter was greeted on the Yankee Stadium field by former teammates like Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams, as well as his longtime manager Joe Torre, and he hugged them all.

The final home farewell began in earnest in the eighth inning. As the fans stood and cheered, mixing in chants of “Thank you, Derek,” Jeter appeared to grow misty-eyed while standing at shortstop, something he had never done.

After the game, Jeter admitted he had been overcome with emotion throughout the day, and several times had to suppress tears, including during his drive to the Stadium and while on the field while the fans were chanting his name. He even admitted hoping that the ball wouldn’t be hit to him at certain times — a first his career. “Sometimes I didn’t know what was doing out there,” he said.

And he had one final piece of news, as the Yankees prepare for the season-ending series at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. “I’ve played my last game at short,” Jeter said.

Thursday’s crowd was the loudest and most energetic one of the season, and it came one day after the Yankees’ playoff hopes were finally snuffed out. Without that distraction, the focus of the game was squarely on Jeter.

The fans came to celebrate his five World Series titles, his impressive hit total — 3,463, the sixth most on baseball’s career list — his 14 All-Star selections and his 2,745 games, all as a Yankee. From the moment Jeter first stepped into the box at the old Yankee Stadium on June 2, 1995, until Thursday night, his 1,391st home game, he has been the darling of Yankee fans.

For hours in advance there was concern that rain might wreak havoc on the game, but by gametime the rain had ended and a lively, sold-out crowd announced as 48,613 — many of whom had planned for months to attend Jeter’s final home game — was making its presence felt.

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