Stage Set for Derek Jeter's Yankee Stadium Farewell

The stage is set at Yankees Stadium for a history-making farewell.

The Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday with a 9-5 loss to the division rival Baltimore Orioles, which means that Yankees shortstop and team captain Derek Jeter will play his final home game Thursday night.

But Wednesday, the future hall of famer wasn't worried about saying goodbyes -- he was stewing over a lost season.

"It's tough. (The playoffs are) what you play for. It's a rough feeling," Jeter said. 

The Yankees (81-77) missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1992 and '93. The only other time New York did not play in the postseason during in the retiring captain's 20-season big league career was in 2008. 

As they have throughout the final homestand, fans stood, cheered and chanted "De-rek Je-ter!" for each of the captain's at-bats during a rare September mid-week afternoon game. Even though Jeter was the designated hitter, the Bleacher Creatures included Jeter in the first-inning roll call. Jeter wasn't in the dugout to acknowledge them with the customary wave.

Jeter was given an extended ovation after he tapped out to first base in the eighth but he remained seated in the dugout and did not come out for the curtain call. The game ended when Brett Gardner struck out looking with Jeter on deck.

"The game wasn't over. We were trying to come back," Jeter said of the eighth. "You can't help but notice. I catch myself looking around sometimes and I've always tried not to do that but I've caught myself a couple of times."

After the game, fans outside the stadium were getting emotional about the prospect of a Yankees infield without No. 2 covering the gap between second and third bases.

"I'm crying, trying to hold in my tears," said Jess Pulford of Oakland, New Jersey. "I'm a huge Yankees fan." 

Despite missing the postseason, tens of thousands of fans are expected to pay top dollar Thursday to see Jeter's final at-bat in pinstripes. Oddly, Thursday's game will be the only one Jeter has ever played in the Bronx without any playoff implications (he was out for the home finale last year, and New York wasn't eliminated from playoff contention in 2008 until after the team's final game at the old Yankee Stadium).

Jessica Bryne said she would "pay anything to to see Jeter play here for the last time." 

Luckily for Bryne, her father bought the tickets shortly after Jeter announced this season would be his last, paying $150 apiece. The seats now are running close to $1,000 on secondary ticket-selling sites. 

Other diehard fans paid an average of $400 for Thursday's game, which is the most popular event on StubHub this week. 

But it's no longer ticket prices that are a consideration for the game Thursday. Fans are worried about the rain set to roll in. 

While the weather may threaten at least the beginning of the 7 p.m. start, a delay or even a cancellation for the captain's last home game isn't out of the cards. Flooding from the day may create messy conditions on the field, according to Storm Team 4. 

Fans say they won't mind the wet weather, as long as the game is not canceled outright.

"No matter what happens tomorrow night, it's a piece of history, and we're going to say goodbye to Jeter," said Bryne's father Kevin. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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