"I don't know about tomorrow. I'm not sure. I will play, but I hope that people can respect my decision on that. I've only played shortstop for my entire career, and the last time I want to play it is tonight."
Manager Joe Girardi said that he would allow Jeter to make the decision on how much he wants to play once the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason. Girardi, like many people around the Yankees, assumed Jeter would certainly decide to play every game he can.
Girardi, however, knew how quickly a player's mind could change. He was certain that Mariano Rivera would decide to play center field at some point during his final three games in Houston last season, but after the way Rivera's final game at Yankee Stadium ended, the closer wanted that to be the final image of his career.
Jeter has been asked the question about playing the final three games in Boston several times during the last month, which he always side-stepped with an answer questioning why he would not. But when the Yankees were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention on Wednesday, things changed, and he started responding that he would make that decision when those games in Boston drew nearer.
The 40-year-old decided prior to Thursday's game that it would be his last playing the position he grew up wanting to play since he was 4 or 5 years old. After Jeter drove home the game-winning run, Jeter ran back out onto the field and kneeled, taking it all in from short for one last time in his career while being showered with adoration.
"It was above and beyond anything I'd ever dreamt of," Jeter said. "I mean, I don't even know what to say. I've lived a dream. This is, since I was 4 or 5 years old, and part of that dream is over now."
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.