Master Key Week 1 – Twenty Years Come and Gone

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the first time I remember seeing Derek Jeter play baseball.

It was an October night in 1996 and I was sitting in the living room of the house I rented from Bob┬áSiracco, a friend of my dad’s. The two-story, red starter home sat on Ocean Avenue in Bridgeport, CT, half-way between the million-dollar homes in Black Rock and the slums just six blocks in the other direction. A cold, New England fall night, and glad I was inside getting ready to watch Game 2 of the World Series between Jeter’s Yankees and the Atlanta Braves.

The pizza was hot out of the oven, potato chip bag already open, and a large Snapple Iced Tea ready to be chugged. Sitting on the papasan chair, first piece of pizza almost gone, and in the bottom of the first, my sister, who was living with me at the time, comes out of her bedroom and says, “A piece of onion in my salad went down my windpipe and I can hardly breath…can you take me to the Emergency Room?”

So the pizza went into the fridge, threw on my jacket, and out we went to lovely downtown Bridgeport and its hospital on Grant Street. There was a long waiting line in the Emergency Room, so it was no fun for my sister. Luckily for me, the lady behind the counter gives me the remote to the one television hanging on the wall and I turn on the game.

About two and a half hours later…my sister is taken care of and feeling better and the Braves have swept the Yankees in New York, headed back to Atlanta for three games and a likely repeat of their 1995 win.

Those of us who follow sports remember that the Yankees swept the next four games and started their dynasty of the late ’90s and early 2000’s.┬áDerek Jeter, a rookie in ’96, started at shortstop for New York for the next twenty season, had a storied career, is a guaranteed lock first ballot Hall of Famer…and he retired just last week.

I am a Red Sox fan, and by birthright, must hate anything with pinstripes or an NY on it. I loved Jeter, though. He represented his team with class, kept a singular focus on winning, stayed out of the headlines, and was respected by his peers.

Why write about Jeter and what does he have to do with the MKE? Jeter took his shot and made the most of his career. By all accounts he played his best all of the time. Most likely no regrets. Have to ask him, though, and I bet he might remember a few plays he could have done better.

I took the MKE last year and believe I played my best. But I remember a few times where I slacked a minute, cut a quick corner, and “tried my best” rather than “gave my best.” As a lifetime member I get to take MKE again, and I am. Why?

I left a few plays on the field and I know I paid for it in my results. Not this time. If you are new to MKE…six months is going to come and go just…like…that. Make it count. Leave it all on the field. Maybe you’ll be a first ballot HOF’er for having done so. Play hard and good luck.