BOSTON — Longtime Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield played against Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in three different American League Championship Series (1999, 2003, '04).

The two were on opposite sides of the heated rivalry when it was better and more competitive than ever.

When Wakefield reflects on Jeter's Hall of Fame career, he points to July 1, 2004.

It all changed that day at Yankee Stadium. It was when Red Sox fans gained respect for the Yankees captain.

"Probably the most memorable moment is in '04 in that extra-inning game," Wakefield said Sunday. "He just dives into the stands and almost kills himself. That's a testament to how hard he played."

The 40-year-old Jeter retired here at Fenway Park on Sunday after 20 years of hustle and greatness.

He was removed for pinch runner Brian McCann with one out in the third inning after an infield RBI single to third base. It marked hit No. 3,465 of the 40-year-old captain's career.

He left to "Derek Jeter" cheers and a lengthy standing ovation. He saluted the players in the Red Sox dugout, shook hands with Boston pitcher Clay Buchholz, tipped his cap, hugged his teammates and disappeared into the dugout.

A couple hours later, the Yankees completed a 9-5 win over Boston in the regular season finale for both clubs.

How would Jeter like to be remembered?

"Being remembered as a Yankee is good enough for me," Jeter said at his final press conference.

Wakefield was one of many to participate in a pregame ceremony honoring Jeter.

Carl Yastrzemski, Rico Petrocelli, Luis Tiant, Jason Varitek, Fred Lynn, Bobby Orr, Paul Pierce, Troy Brown and Pete Frates also joined Jeter at shortstop before the game.

Jeter was asked Friday when he thought Red Sox fans started to become nicer to him.

He said after Boston won the 2004 World Series.

But it was approximately four months before the World Series at Yankee Stadium when things changed or at least began to change.

Jeter was sprawled out in the third base stands with a bruised face July 1, 2004. He went headfirst in there after catching a flyball at full speed.

Disgruntled Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, meanwhile, was sitting in the visitor's dugout. Wanting a trade out of Boston, Garciaparra had asked to be taken out of the lineup when the Red Sox needed him the most. Boston had lost the first two games of the series and could have used a win in the series finale as it fought for a spot in the playoffs.

The Yankees ended up posting a 5-4 victory in 13 innings over Boston ... thanks to Jeter.

That was when the Garciaparra vs. Jeter Who is Better? Debate between Red Sox and Yankees fans ended. Jeter was the clearcut winner.

Red Sox pitcher Anthony Ranaudo grew up in New Jersey and was a huge Yankees fan as a boy. Jeter was his idol.

Ranaudo was just 14 years old during summer 2004.

"When he jumped into the stands and made that play, as a kid and somebody aspiring to be like somebody, that's a pretty big thing to watch," Ranaudo said. "My dad was my coach at the time. He was like, 'Hey, look at this guy. He's playing for the name on the front of his jersey. He doesn't care what he looks like. He just took a beating to the face just to catch that ball because it means something to his team.'

"He put the name on the front of the jersey before the name on the back, which coincidentally made the name on the back of his jersey pretty famous," Ranaudo added.

Wakefield visited with Jeter before Sunday's pregame ceremony. The knuckleballer told Jeter he was honored to have competed against him for more than a decade and a half.

"You've got to respect him as a person and what he's accomplished in his career," Wakefield said. "It's truly amazing. For him to stay with one organization for his whole career, it's probably not going to happen anymore. Not only his on-field accomplishments but his off-the-field accomplishments — he personifies professionalism.

"Seeing Cal (Ripken Jr.) here today, he was the ambassador of the game," Wakefield added. "Derek kind of took over that role. And it was nice. It was a perfect fit for us as a group of baseball players, for the game itself to have him represent us the way he did."

The Yankees were 7.5 games ahead of the Red Sox on July 1, 2004. The Red Sox needed to win a lot more than the Yankees did.

That should tell you a little bit more about the way Jeter always played this game.

Commissioner Bud Selig made a Joe DiMaggio reference when discussing Jeter at Fenway Park over the weekend.

"I reminded of Joe DiMaggio in Sportsman Park in St. Louis," Selig said. "It was probably 90 to 100 degrees out there. Someone asked, 'Why are you playing so hard?' He said, 'There's people here who've never seen me play.' ... Just came to play every day hard. Wound up in the Hall of Fame. In this kind of world, you treasure those kind of people. And I treasure Derek Jeter's work ethic, integrity, professionalism."

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB

RANAUDO AND JETER AT CHURCH

Red Sox pitcher Anthony Ranaudo is from New Jersey and idolized Derek Jeter.

Growing up, Ranaudo attended the same Christmas Eve mass with Jeter one year at Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington, N.J.

"His grandfather used to be a janitor there (at the church)," Ranaudo said. "I read it in a book a couple years later. I was like, 'Well, that makes sense that I saw him there.' So that was pretty cool. He was like a couple pews away from me." 

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