Derek Jeter’s decision to retire at the end of the 2014 baseball season sent New York Yankees fans rushing to ticket resale markets and brokers scurrying to remove their offers.
Jeter, a 13-time All-Star who ranks No. 10 on the all-time hits list, announced yesterday on Facebook that 2014 will be his 20th and last Major League Baseball season. Within two hours, the average ticket price tracked by TiqIQ for the Yankees’ home finale against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 25 rose 164 percent to $804. The cheapest tickets surged tenfold to $280.
“The market for this game is one of the craziest we have seen in terms of initial demand and how quickly tickets were taken down from resale sites by brokers,” Chris Matcovich, vice president of data for New York-based secondary-market ticket aggregator TiqIQ, said in an e-mail. “It’s insane.”
Jeter, who will turn 40 in June, said he decided months ago that this season would be his last. His family told him to hold off announcing his decision until he was “absolutely 100 percent sure.”
“And the thing is, I could not be more sure,” Jeter said in the letter. “I know it in my heart.”
Following an injury-marred 2013 campaign, the Yankees team captain in November signed a one-year, $12 million contract to return to New York, where he’s spent his entire major league career.
“For the last 20 years I’ve been completely focused on two goals: playing my best and helping the Yankees win,” Jeter said. “That means that, for 365 days a year, my every thought and action were geared toward that goal. It’s now time for something new.”
With five World Series championships, Jeter is the Yankees’ record holder in hits, games played, stolen bases, at-bats and singles. His 3,316 hits rank first among active major league players.
“He is unquestionably one of the greatest Yankees ever,” Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “I’m glad we have this year to celebrate everything he has meant to us.”
Jeter said upon signing his final deal that his 2013 season was “pretty much a nightmare.” He played in 17 games, hitting a career low .190 in 73 plate appearances, and was placed on the disabled list four times with ankle and leg injuries.
Last season the Yankees lost all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera and starting pitcher Andy Pettitte, a 256-game winner, to retirement. Both pitchers joined the big leagues with Jeter in 1995.
Jeter can expect to receive the same kind of treatment in his final season as Rivera, who was feted at Yankee Stadium and in his final visits to other ballparks.
While Rivera’s retirement announcement in March also led to an immediate spike in prices for the Yankees’ final 2013 homestand, the cost of entry to Rivera’s home finale dropped about 20 percent from highs in the 72 hours before the game, according to Will Flaherty, a spokesman for New York-based resale ticket aggregator SeatGeek.
“Based on what we saw last year with Rivera’s retirement, we’d recommend that Yankees fans sit tight and let the hysteria die down,” Flaherty said in a statement.
The Yankees’ close out their regular season Sept. 26-28 at their division rival Boston Red Sox. The current average ticket price for the finale is $398, a 59 percent increase from when Jeter revealed his plans, according to TiqIQ.
Boston won the World Series last season, while New York missed the playoffs for the second time since Jeter was called up to the majors in 1995.
The Yankees, who have yet to open up single-game ticket sales for 2014, were offering a 12-game season-ticket plan that included the final home game, though it sold out within an hour of Jeter’s disclosure, according to SeatGeek. A two-game “flex pack” for the Red Sox that included the season finale also sold out, the website said.
Bud Selig said in a statement yesterday that, since he took over as MLB commissioner more than 21 years ago, there has been “no finer ambassador” for the sport than Jeter.
“Derek is the kind of person that generations have emulated proudly and he remains an exemplary face of our sport,” Selig said. “Major League Baseball looks forward to celebrating his remarkable career throughout the 2014 season.”
During the offseason the Yankees signed catcher Brian McCann, Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran.
They lost players including second baseman Robinson Cano and outfielder Curtis Granderson, while third baseman Alex Rodriguez had his 2014 suspension upheld, meaning he and Jeter won’t take the left side of the infield together again.
Jeter said his post-baseball ambitions are to do more business and philanthropic work, to focus on starting a family and to finally have a summer vacation.
“But before that, I want to soak in every moment of every day this year, so I can remember it for the rest of my life,” he said. “And most importantly, I want to help the Yankees reach our goal of winning another championship.”