NEW YORK -- They rose as Derek Jeter dug into the batter's box in the ninth inning on Sunday at Target Field, saluting the Yankees captain's career with a standing ovation as he prepared for his final regular season at-bat against a Twins pitcher.
Jeter responded with a single to left field, capping a three-hit afternoon in front of that crowd of 31,171. Now, Jeter knows for sure that he will be returning to Minnesota for a game that will be seen by a much larger audience.
The 40-year-old Jeter has been selected as an American League All-Star for the 14th and final time, earning his ninth fan vote selection after collecting 3,928,422 votes. He led all AL shortstops at every checkpoint of the balloting process.
"After last year, just playing means a little bit more," Jeter said. "All-Star Games are never a situation where I expect to go to the All-Star Game. I've never taken it for granted any time that I've gone. I've enjoyed each and every one of them, but especially so, I'm looking forward to this one."
Jeter has been joined on the AL squad by pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances, both of whom were tabbed by the player vote. Tanaka is expected to be replaced on the roster because he is scheduled to pitch on the Sunday preceding the game, but both Tanaka and Betances plan to attend Jeter's final All-Star Game.
"It makes it more fun for me, just playing with him and getting to know him better," Betances said. "In his last year, All-Star Game with him -- what could be better? I'm loving this moment right now."
"You could tell they were excited about it," said Jeter, who is hitting .273 with 23 RBIs and 29 runs scored this season. "Both of them have been outstanding this year, so I'm looking forward to enjoying it and sharing it with them."
Jeter is the seventh player in AL history to earn at least nine fan elections, joining Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. (17 with Baltimore), George Brett (11 with Kansas City) and Rod Carew (nine with Minnesota); as well as Ken Griffey Jr. (10 with Seattle); teammate Ichiro Suzuki (nine with Seattle); and Ivan Rodriguez (nine with Texas).
"I think it'll be great," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think it's great for the fans, I think it's great for baseball and I'm sure they have something special planned."
During last summer's All-Star Game at Citi Field, both clubs paid tribute to Mariano Rivera's stellar career by leaving the field empty for the Yankees closer's eighth-inning entrance. Rivera doffed his cap to all corners of the ballpark before being joined by his AL teammates, an emotional and unforgettable moment.
Red Sox manager John Farrell is expected to orchestrate a similar tribute for Jeter, who completed play on Sunday eighth on the all-time hit list with 3,400.
"I think it's important to showcase Derek for just a Hall of Fame and incredible career," Farrell said on ESPN. "I think there will be an opportunity to do just that, to highlight when he comes out of the game.
"My first thought is that it would happen inside of a defensive inning, to where he'll have a chance to salute the crowd and come off. I think it'll be great for baseball to witness his last All-Star appearance and really congratulate him on just an incredible career."
Jeter will also have the opportunity to reunite up the middle with former teammate Robinson Cano, who was voted as the AL's starting second baseman in his first year as a Mariner.
"I would love to see Robbie," Jeter said. "I played with Robbie for a long time. I was there when he came up. We're friends as well as teammates."
Jeter is one of three players in Major League history with at least 3,000 hits, 250 home runs and 350 stolen bases, along with Craig Biggio and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. He said that he is treating his final All-Star appearance just like the first one.
"I don't go into it with any expectations," Jeter said. "I'm just going to try to enjoy myself and have fun with whoever's here."