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High school athletes flock to social media reacting to the signature baseball moment of their lifetime

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher As a boy growing up in the 1970s and 80s, my brother and I would play Wiffle Ball in the driveway or backyard, mimicking the batting stances and pitching motions of our heroes of the day. My favorite player of that era was George Brett of the Kansas City Royals. I would bat lefty, leaning back in my stance, trying to be just like No. 5. The high school kids of today likely did the same thing when they were 10 or 12 years old, only they would hold the bat high above their head and twirl it like No. 2. On Thursday night, Derek Jeter, one of the most celebrated Yankees of all time, played his final game in pinstripes at Yankee Stadium. In classic Jeter fashion, he did what has become the hallmark of his Hall-of-Fame career. He came through in the clutch. Jeter laced a single to right with that patented inside-out swing, plating the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles. It set off a barrage of comments on Twitter, and it was interesting to see how today’s high school athletes and coaches reacted to what will become one of the signature moments in baseball history. Tweeted Mike Lahoud, catcher for Egg Harbor Township’s baseball team: “The greatest moment in baseball history hands down. #FarewellCaptain.” He added: “going for a back hand and yelling Jeter as u jump throw off the back foot.” Added Drew Roesch, a baseball player at Absegami: “A moment like that only happens because of how crazy this game of baseball is #RE2PECT.” “So crazy to think that my childhood and someone who I looked up to is never going to play baseball again. Not even a Yankee fan and I’ve got goosebumps right now. #legend.” That’s what Holy Spirit baseball player A.J. Russo had to say. Football players got in on the Twitter party. “I hate the Yankees but I’m gonna miss Jeter! What an incredible way to go out!” That’s what former Ocean City quarterback Joe Keyes had to say. Keyes’ former teammate, Paul Stanton, tweeted: “One of the greatest athletes to ever play, and even a better man.” According to ESPN, after the game-winning hit there were 72,000 tweets per minute referencing Jeter. Even the girls got in on the Jeter praise. Wrote Absegami field hockey and basketball player Brielle Clarke: “What a great way to end this game, Derek Jeter is such a legend.” Professional players all heaped praise on their peer. Guys such as former Cape-Atlantic League star Mike Trout of the Angels, Justin Verlander of the Tigers. And R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays tweeted while adding some of his trademark humor. “Couldn’t have been scripted better. glad I got to compete against such a classy icon. Plus, I may have given up his last home run ever,” is what Dickey tweeted. Holy Spirit baseball coach Steve Normane had a much more nostalgic take on the moment. A lover of baseball history and the bonds the sport creates among fathers and sons, Normane put neatly into 140 characters or less what the moment meant to him, not only as a former standout player at Rutgers University, but also as a father of a two young children. Wrote Normane: “My Dad would tell me stories about how Mantle played. I’ll tell my son stories about how Jeter played.” And that is the fabric that connects baseball fans throughout the years and generations. Baseball is a game that begins with games of catch between fathers and sons in the backyard. And it becomes more than just a game. It becomes the impetus for fathers and sons to talk to each other. It provides a setting in which fathers and sons, and daughters, can talk about life without realizing they are talking about life. Tweeted former Holy Spirit baseball player Mike Adams: “How can you not be romantic about baseball?” Perhaps the most memorable moment in my time growing up came in the 1988 World Series, when a hobbled Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers limped his way to the plate and smacked a home run off Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley, the sultry voice of announcer Vin Scully making the call. “High fly ball into right field … she is … gone! In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!” I was 16 years old when that happened. Now, 26 years later, 16-year-olds across the country have the baseball moment they will remember for the rest of their lives. St. Joseph football player and wrestler C.J. LaFragola summed up what Thursday night meant to teenagers everywhere when he tweeted “Way to go out on top for the last time at home with the walk off single!!! hero since I was little.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter: @GDsullysays [adsense]

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