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Foster: Honors on hold for grounded Jeter

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Detroit — The buzz wasn't good.

The Captain wasn't here.

It wasn't that he didn't want to be. It was because two private jets experienced mechanical problems, causing Derek Jeter to miss his Michigan Sports Hall of Fame induction during ceremonies at Motor City Casino Sound Board on Thursday.

Carrie Kennedy came from Ann Arbor just to shake his hand.

Others wanted to get a glimpse of the Hall of Famer just months after he hung up his jersey with the Yankees after 20 seasons, five World Series championships and more than 3,400 hits.

"He wanted to be here," Hall executive director Jim Stark said. "I swear he was coming. He was coming."

'Tied in' to Michigan

Few believed the story.

Most thought Jeter stiffed the Hall simply because he's Derek Jeter. After all, he's one of the most storied baseball players in history, owns New York City and dates some of the most beautiful women in the world.

Why on earth would he come to Detroit for a state Hall of Fame ceremony when he's a likely first-ballot entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Dr. Charles Tucker knows better.

This is Michigan.

"Sometime things happen," said Tucker, who knew Jeter when he played basketball and baseball in Kalamazoo and still sees glimpses of the kid with the bright smile, quick bat and flashy glove. "If something is wrong with the airlines, there is nothing you can do about something like that. When it comes to Michigan, anything Michigan, they are coming."

Tucker said he even talked to Jeter on Wednesday night, and the Yankees legend said everything was a go for his appearance.

Still, why?

"Anything that will bring guys (like Magic Johnson and Jeter) to Michigan, they will come back," Tucker said. "It is hard to get them to commit, but once they commit they are coming. They are tied in."

In fact, Jeter was one of the first members of this year's class to commit to the ceremony, which included Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, Red Wings great Sergei Fedorov, baseball great Barry Larkin, bowler Aleta Sill, former Lions defensive stalwart Doug English and Olympian Sheila Taormina.

Coming from afar

It was great to see a smiling Fedorov, who came to Detroit from Russia. He's one of the more likable athletes, if you get the chance to get to know him. Red Wings fans didn't always like Fedorov, especially when he tried to leave the team.

But he played here, and he played hard for most of his career.

The night, however, belonged to — or should have belonged to — Jeter.