DETROIT -- Derek Jeter was never a Tigers fan while growing up down the freeway in Kalamazoo, Mich.
"I was born in New Jersey," the New York Yankees shortstop said Tuesday when his final series at Comerica Park began. "My dad was a big Tiger fan, so I had to root against my dad."
Jeter is one of a dwindling number of players who played at Tiger Stadium, which saw its last season of major league baseball in 1999.
"I always enjoy coming here," he said, "because it brings back memories of Tiger Stadium.
"But my first memory of Detroit was 1995, when me and Mo (Mariano Rivera) got sent down (to the minors) the same day.
"We were all packed and ready to go (to Detroit) when we got the word. A lot of my friends and relatives were coming to Detroit to see me play.
"I always liked Tiger Stadium. The right field overhang, you could hit balls that appeared to be outs that turned into home runs because of that overhang."
While Jeter wasn't a Tiger fan, he did like the University of Michigan. He accepted a baseball scholarship to play for former Detroit catcher Bill Freehan, but being drafted in the first round by the Yankees changed his mind.
Even Freehan told Jeter he would be crazy to turn down first-round money. Freehan was lured from Michigan's baseball and football teams after his sophomore season by bonus money from the Tigers.
"I fell in love with Michigan during recruiting trips," said Jeter, who went 2-for-4 Tuesday in the Tigers' 5-2 win over the Yankees. "The players took me to a couple of parties. ...
"I was drafted by New York, the team I'd always wanted to play for. I think I made the right decision."