Brian Butterfield

Brian Butterfield on Derek Jeter: 'I couldn't wait to wake up and watch him work'

September 28, 2014 - 11:38 am

As former and current Red Sox players honored Derek Jeter at Fenway Park prior to the final game of his 20-year career, it was the presence of Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield that had special significance. Butterfield has an interesting history with the Yankees superstar. He first coached Jeter in the instructional league after Jeter was taken in the first round of the 1992 draft. He worked closely with Jeter on his defense after the shortstop committed 56 errors in his first full professional season, and Jeter has given Butterfield credit for helping him become a major league shortstop.

The Red Sox third base coach says that even though they're not as close anymore, it's been meaningful to be a part of Jeter's final season.

"There'€™s been a lot of distance between Derek and I. I was blessed to have crossed paths with him, it was a long time ago," Butterfield said. "I don'€™t have his phone number, he doesn't have mine, we don'€™t stay in touch in the offseason, but when we do cross paths, because he'€™s such a respectful guy, he had a tremendous upbringing, he always makes a point to say something or come over and get on me about something from shortstop when I'€™m over at third base. I think we've always had a good relationship, I'€™m very thankful for that."

Though it's been more than 20 years since Butterfield first worked with Jeter in the minors, he still has fond memories of working with the shortstop.

 "I'€™d be so excited, telling my wife and my young son at the time [about] this kid that I had an opportunity to work with," Butterfield said. "I couldn't wait to get to wake up the next morning and watch him work and hear what he had to say and watch what he did. It really was a lot of fun, it was a great experience, a much greater experience for me than him."

It's only fitting that Butterfield, who was present for Jeter's first game as a major leaguer, was also able to participate in Jeter's finale. He says while he doesn't remember everything about the 40-year-old's early career, he recalls his debut.

"I do remember him as a young guy," said Butterfield. "I remember his major league debut in Seattle, and his dad sitting right behind me. It was the first time I'€™d ever seen his dad a little bit uneasy, he was kind of leaning in at the edge of his seat. I yelled over at him and I said, 'Would you relax?'€ He started laughing. There are some flashes of when he was young."

Rather than asking the superstar for his autograph, Butterfield left a personal gift of his own for Jeter.

"[I had a] baseball I'€™d taken over that I signed for him, I thought I'€™d write something humorous on it," Butterfield said on Friday, when the Yankees came to town. "When he gets here, there will be a ball in a sanitary sock in his locker that'€™s from me. I think it'€™ll make him laugh."

Butterfield had a small part in the ceremony, with the Maine native presenting Jeter with a pair of L.L. Bean boots (made in Maine, fittingly) with the Yankee emblem. But aside from the participation in the festivities, Butterfield said he just wanted to watch Jeter play for one last time -- making him very similar to the sold-out crowd at Fenway Park.