Last week, I watched on TV as Derek Jeter played the last professional baseball game of his fabulous career at Yankee Stadium. If you didn't see it yourself, you might have heard about it anyway by now, even if you're not a Yankee fan, or even a baseball fan.
I retired from baseball myself at age 11, still in the minor league (that’s right, I didn't even make it into Little League), so I'm not sure why I eventually became a baseball fan. It helped, of course, that I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York watching Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra play. It also helps that baseball can be so dramatic – innings go by one by one with nothing special happening, and suddenly there is the hoped for hit, the fantastic catch, or the unbelievable error, and the whole game changes in a heartbeat.
In his twenty seasons as the shortstop of the New York Yankees, perhaps no one has had more flair for the dramatic than Derek Jeter. Last night was no exception. The Baltimore Orioles led off the top of the first with back-to-back home runs to take a 2-0 lead. With one man on base, Jeter hit a double in the bottom of the first to get the Yankees’ first run, and then crossed home plate later in the inning to tie the score. Later in the game, with the score still tied, Jeter hit a ball straight to the Orioles’ shortstop, who promptly threw the ball away scoring two more Yankee runs. The Orioles, first place in their division this year, weren't ready to cave in. In the top of the ninth inning, they hit two more home runs to tie the score at 5-5, setting the stage for another dramatic finish for Jeter. With a man on base, he came up in the bottom of the ninth and smashed a single into right field (his signature hit) scoring the winning run. In all, Derek Jeter factored into 5 of the Yankees’ 6 runs, in his last game at the Stadium, capping off one of the most successful careers in baseball history.
Sorry, I get carried away. You might not even be a baseball fan. And I'm not even writing this because Derek Jeter is a great baseball player. I'm writing this because of the way he has played. This has been Jeter’s final season, and everywhere he has been, the fans (all the fans, of all the teams) have cheered and showered him with praise. Derek Jeter, in his 20 seasons as a Yankee, has not only been the face of his own team, but the iconic and admired hero of baseball and all of sports.
What moves me is that Derek Jeter is just a human being like the rest of us. It is well known he didn't become one of the best and most admired baseball players of all time because he had more natural talent than anyone else. He has been very successful, yes. But he is uniformly admired and loved because he has played the game and lived his life with integrity, grit, dedication, humility and compassion. And because he has done that, he has influenced millions to live their lives in like manner. He has contributed mightily to a better world for all of us.
I’m not Derek Jeter. I retired from baseball at age 11. I'm a professional financial advisor who specializes in socially responsible investing (SRI), and I do that because I believe it will help create a more compassionate and sustainable economy, one that works for everyone. In short, I also want to contribute to a better world for all of us. Every day, I work with clients who invest their money in ways that express their integrity, their compassion, and their commitment to a better world. Even without a lot of natural talent (OK, I'm speaking for myself), we all make a difference. SRI investors are making a positive difference in the world every day, and I'm proud of that.