In a surprising twist of fate, Jeter Downs, named after the legendary Derek Jeter, found himself on the Red Sox in 2022, where he made his Major League debut against the Yankees, collecting his first hit, run, RBI, and home run against the team. Now, Downs has a chance to don the iconic pinstripes, just like his namesake.
The New York Yankees announced their claim of Jeter Downs off waivers from the Nationals, adding another layer to the intriguing story that began with the trade of Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in February 2020, a deal that now involves the Yankees.
While Downs may not boast extensive Major League experience, his journey has already been intertwined with the Yankees, making his arrival more remarkable than just a mere name coincidence. His first career home run happened in the Bronx, and he notched his debut hit and RBI against the Yankees in a July 9 game while playing for the Red Sox. In an extra-innings thriller, he scored the winning run on a hit by none other than Alex Verdugo, a recent addition to the Yankees through a trade.
Primarily a shortstop but also capable of playing third base and second base, Downs made appearances in six games for the Nationals in 2023, impressively batting .400 with four runs scored, an RBI, four walks, and two stolen bases. However, he was designated for assignment by the Nationals before the Yankees claimed him.
Throughout the 2023 season, the 25-year-old split his time between the Minors, posting a .222 batting average with three home runs, 20 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases in a total of 60 games across Triple-A Rochester, FCL Nationals, and High-A Wilmington.
In his brief Major League career, spanning the 2022 and 2023 seasons with the Red Sox and Nationals, Downs has accumulated a .182 batting average with eight hits, one home run, and five RBIs in 20 games.
Born three years after Derek Jeter’s Major League debut, Jeter Downs revealed that he was named after the Yankees legend by his mother, despite his father being a staunch Red Sox fan. Growing up as a Yankees supporter, Downs had a unique encounter with Jeter, spotting him in traffic while driving with his brother. This chance encounter led to a memorable FaceTime conversation with the Yankees icon, arranged through a friend attending a Marlins event at a TopGolf venue.
Downs, who has idolized Jeter throughout his life, described the experience as special and cherished the opportunity to meet and converse with his namesake.