With the 2015 MLB season still over three months away, the changing of the guard at shortstop for the New York Yankees is not yet official. In the meantime, a pair of college football games have been played at Yankee Stadium, which means two players have had the honor of occupying the former Yankees’ captain’s locker post retirement.
The first game took place on Nov. 19 when Patriot League rivals Lehigh and Lafayette met for the 150th time ever. It’s not clear who used Jeter’s locker that day. The second took place on Saturday afternoon when the fifth annual Pinstripe Bowl was played between the Penn State Nittany Lions and Boston College Eagles, and we know for a fact the locker belonged to Penn State senior kicker and special teams’ captain Sam Ficken.
Here’s the visual proof.
It’s a locker fit for a captain, and though Ficken wears a considerably higher uniform number than Jeter’s famous No. 2 — he’s still a kicker after all, so he gets No. 97 — it appears it’s also a locker fit for a hero.
Ironically, though perhaps not surprisingly given Jeter’s magic over 20 big league seasons, Ficken capped off his collegiate career the same way Jeter capped his emotional final game at Yankee Stadium: with a walk-off winner.
For Jeter, it was a walk-off single to right field against the Baltimore Orioles. For Ficken, it was a combination of two of the biggest kicks of his college career that pushed Penn State to a 31-30 victory.
That was the hard part. The easy part came in overtime, and sealed Penn State’s first bowl victory since 2009.
It doesn’t matter the sport or location, hitting the game-winner is always special. But the circumstances surrounding Ficken’s Saturday afternoon certainly give it a unique twist and add another level of significance in spite of it largely being a coincidence.
This parting photo is pretty cool, too.
That’s what a walk-off win looks like after the on-field emotions die down and the feeling of accomplishment settles in. From here, it looks like one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.
BLS H/N: Hardball Talk
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