Royce Lewis Looks Old and He Knows It… But That’s Not Why His Derek Jeter Tribute Went Awry

Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For the vast majority of the Minnesota Twins 2024 season, they have been without their young superstar Royce Lewis. After suffering a significant quad injury on Opening Day, Royce finally returned to the active roster on Tuesday and immediately jumped into the Twins’ lineup.

Derek Jeter was Lewis’ favorite player growing up. So being this was his first time in Yankee Stadium, he felt a hat tip to The Captain was necessary. While the Minnesota Twins have been owned by the Bronx Bombers over the years, which has continued in 2024, Lewis is paving his own path.

Royce Lewis honors Derek Jeter with first Yankee Stadium at bat

Stepping in for the first time at Yankee Stadium, Lewis emulated Jeter’s patented routine of holding his right hand up to the umpire while he stepped into the batter’s box. But that’s something that umpires aren’t used to in the pitch clock era.

In 2024, that’s what hitters do when they want to use the one timeout they have per at, bat. That’s why the tribute to Jeter almost backfired when the umpire called at timeout, thinking that’s what Lewis wanted. Luckily, a quick explanation got him his timeout back and the at-bat proceeded.

The Star Tribune’s Bobby Nightengale talked with Lewis postgame about the moment. Home plate umpire Chris Segal (who was confused all night) was the one who nearly stopped it.

“I did that and the umpire called time when I actually put my hand up. I’m not used to that because I don’t think they did that back in the day. I was just laughing with him because he’s like, ‘Oh, you didn’t mean to? Let’s bang that.’ I’m like, ‘It was just a one-time thing.”

“For me it was back in ‘07. My dad took me to a Yankees game. It was him and A-Rod, and obviously they were a superstar team and the talent was there, they were great. For me I loved the theatrics of him playing, the way he played the game. How he played the game the right way, he was a professional. I loved that his parents, his mom was white, his dad was black and that’s how I grew up as well. I wanted to be just like him and play shortstop in the big leagues.”

Royce Lewis explains what happened during Derek Jeter tribute (via Star Tribune)

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Birthday blast for Royce Lewis, another loss vs Yankees for Minnesota Twins

Although the Yankees won a 5-1 contest in Royce Lewis’ return to the Twins lineup, he certainly made his presence felt. Drawing a pair of walks he stepped in for a seventh inning at bat and blasted his second home run of the season over the left center field wall.

As he had done in his first at bat on Opening Day, Lewis going yard again felt surreal. Coming off a rehab assignment in which he didn’t produce at all, the bright lights clearly were made for him.

Related: A-Rod, Marc Lore Acting and Partying Like Majority Owners of the Timberwolves

The same thing happened in game two of the series. Lewis also celebrated his 25th birthday on Wednesday night. Despite a few fruitless at bats, including a strikeout, the Twins third baseman did it again.

A birthday blast against New York reliever Dennis Santana, which made Lewis the first Minnesota player in franchise history to homer in his first three games of the season.

Of course, as Lewis always has, he finds a way to make the moment less about him. Being appreciative of the opportunity to play the game of baseball at the highest level, Minnesota’s star still thinks of himself as needing to earn it every day.

While his hair may be gone, and he might look twice his actual age, he is still a young man and he still hopes to have a lot of career ahead of him. After Wednesday’s game, Lewis spoke with a scrum of reporters and joked about how he looks 35, but feels much younger.

“I’m just trying to prove I belong here and I’m going to earn a spot every day still. Still have a young career going. Even though I turned 25 and I look 35, I’m still young. I’m just trying to learn and grow each and every day. Today was another good one for me with Rodon being an elite left-handed pitcher. For me to be able to learn from those at-bats, see those kind of pitches was great.”

Royce Lewis after Twins vs Yankees on Wednesday night

Related: Minnesota Twins Pitching Prospect Moves into MLB Top 100

As has always been assumed to be the case, and is now coming to fruition, the sky is clearly the limit for the always smiling star. What Jeter accomplished will be hard to top, but there’s no one that should be putting limits on what Lewis can do.

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