(CBS) — Derek Jeter and Paul Konerko have been friendly adversaries for 15 years of Yankee-White Sox wars. Both iconic players are now bowing out after historic careers.
Konerko, in a part-time role with the Sox, has played more lately because of an injury to Jose Abreu. Jeter is on pace to play about 125 games in 2014.
As both players go around the majors one last time, they took time to compliment each other as their teams matched up on Thursday.
“Derek has done it better, longer and with more class than anybody,” Konerko said. “He plays the toughest position in the toughest city to play in. No one has had a tougher row to hoe. He has never let anybody down. I think he is the best at handling everything that a player needs to do the right way.”
Jeter has nothing but admiration for Konerko.
“I have always respected Paulie,” Jeter related. “It is for the way he plays the game, the way he handles himself. He has had a lot of success during his career. You enjoy competing against guys like that.”
Konerko was a Yankee fan growing up and has the respect of the greatest Yankee player since Mickey Mantle retired in 1969. “Paul has had a wonderful, wonderful career,” the Yankee captain said. “I am hoping he has a great ending to it, but I have always respected him.”
While Konerko is going around to each ballpark taking pictures and video from the batter’s box view he had for so many years, Jeter has a different perspective on his final trips to cities like Chicago.
“It may sound funny since this is my last year, but I don’t think about that this is my last time coming in,” the shortstop said. “I come in here saying I want to win games. I am sure it might be a little different as I get toward the end of the year. It is still hard for me to think about it being over when it is still four or five months from now.”