TAMPA — Sure, over the years we’ve documented the number of major-league players who wore uniform number 2 as a salute to Derek Jeter.
Big whoop. How many big leaguers own a dog named after the newly inducted Hall of Famer?
Only one, to our knowledge, and he’s currently wearing the Yankees’ pinstripes.
“I have an older brother, he was an infielder,” Zack Granite, an outfielder and non-roster invitee, said last week at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “We kind of both loved Jeter. He was the man, you know?
“It was pretty simple. It fit. We named him Jeter. Still alive, still kicking.” Durable, in other words, like his namesake.
Jeter the dog, a miniature pinscher, is an amazing 14 years old and resides with Granite’s parents in Staten Island, where Granite played high school ball at Tottenville. Zack Granite has fond memories of going to Yankees games at the old Yankee Stadium. As much as he admired Jeter, since he always played outfield, Granite held a special affection for Bernie Williams — “I used to love going to games and hearing that song, ‘Burn, baby, burn,’” he said, referring to “Disco Inferno” — and later Brett Gardner. He has gotten to know the pair this spring, with Williams serving as a special instructor for a few days and Gardner the Yankees’ starting center fielder.
“It’s been pretty cool just picking his brain,” Granite said of Gardner.
The Twins’ 14th-round selection in the 2013 amateur draft, Granite played in 40 games for Minnesota in 2017, then spent the last two years playing at Triple-A, with the Twins’ organization in 2018 and the Rangers’ last year.
With the Yankees, “I don’t really have any expectations,” the 27-year-old said. “I’m just going to go in and see what happens. I think that’s the best way to go about it. I don’t want to put extra pressure on myself. Just play well and have fun.”
If he intelligently won’t get caught up in the competition for a job here — he has an out from his contract “during the middle of the season,” he said — there’s no ignoring that the stakes have been raised in the Jeter tribute department. How about naming a human being “Jeter”? That’s what the parents of Red Sox prospect Jeter Downs did, one-upping Granite.
“It is what it is,” Granite said, laughing. He’ll surely settle for playing even a small role in helping the Yankees pass Jeter Downs’ Red Sox this season.
Last week’s Pop Quiz question came from Gary Mintz of South Huntington: In the 2018 film “Green Book,” protagonist “Tony Lip” and his friends cheer as they watch a famous Yankees hitter go deep during the 1962 World Series. Name the Yankees hitter.
I’m not one to promote business gimmicks, but this one was clever enough to grab my attention: In honor of the Yankees’ continuing injury epidemic, all Villa Italian Kitchen locations in New York and Tampa are offering a special “Injured List” rate for their pizza. If you’re especially fired up, you can “pay tribute to (your) favorite injured baseball player by emblazing the player’s number in pepperoni on a classic Neapolitan style pizza pie,” as per the press release. Might as well cash in on the Yankees’ misfortune, right?
Your Pop Quiz answer is Roger Maris.
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