With a chance to leave New York Yankees icon Derek Jeter with a lasting image of Houston, the Astros gave him . . . cowboy boots, a Stetson cowboy hat and a set of golf clubs.
What year is it? 1985?
So much for bolstering Houston's standing as a cosmopolitan international city. Instead, the first set of gifts — in what's going to be a season of gifts at every ballpark for Jeter in his Grand Farewell Tour — fit right into all of the somewhat ridiculous stereotypes outsiders who don't know better have of Houston. At least no one told Jeter and the Yankees, "Y'all come back now."
To be fair to the Astros, the ceremony itself was first class. And are cowboy boots were custom-made pinstriped boots.
The Yankee captain tipped his batting helmet and seemed genuinely moved — at least as much as the always in control Jeter ever seems moved.
Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens both came out to honor their old teammate and Jeter seemed to get a kick out of talking to the retired, legendary Astros broadcaster Milo Hamilton on the field for a few minutes before the ceremony Wednesday night. Clemens and Jeter shared a warm embrace — while Clemens and Pettitte, the once ultra-close friend of the Rocket who testified that Clemens told him about using steroids, had a much quicker, more polite hug.
Former Yankees reliever and Jeter teammate Mike Stanton also made an appearance as did professional golfer Mark O'Meara, who mostly seemed to be there to promote this week's Shell Houston Open.
A more poignant moment than the ceremony itself occurred when the entire Astros team stepped up onto the first step of the dugout — with the manager Bo Porter and the coaches going out onto the dirt itself — to give Jeter a standing ovation before his first at-bat in in the bottom of the first inning. The Minute Maid Park crowd — significantly smaller than the Opening Day frenzy — rose to applaud Jeter as well.
The Yankee captain tipped his batting helmet and seemed genuinely moved — at least as much as the always in control Jeter ever seems moved — by Major Leaguers from another team rising to honor him.
Now, that's better than any cowboy boots. Even if they're pinstriped.