Respect among rivals — for tonight, at least! Boston native Ben Affleck is a die-hard Red Sox fan, but on Wednesday, July 15, at the 2015 ESPYS, he put his Fenway loyalties aside to honor a former foe: recently retired Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice actor, 42, took the stage at the annual sports event in L.A., where he presented the ESPYS Icon Award to Jeter, 41, who played his entire career for the Sox’s biggest rivals.
Wearing his wedding ring again, two weeks after his split from Jennifer Garner, Affleck tipped his cap to the baseball superstar, admitting that he loved to watch Jeter play, even if it was for the enemy.
“There was something about him that made the boos ring a little hollow,” he began. “Maybe it was imitable class. Maybe it was that he won with dignity and lost with grace. Maybe it was simply that we knew no matter what, he was a winner regardless. Boston sports fans can be many things, but we know baseball, and we respect those who play the game the way it was meant to be played.”
Acknowledging Jeter’s retirement last year after nearly 20 years, he continued: “He broke my heart 100 times, if not more. And he broke it again when he retired, because he was absolutely one of the very best ever to play the game of baseball. So to you, Derek Jeter, I tip my hat and I thank you for every last moment of your incredible career. You made the game better for everyone.”
Jeter, for his part, couldn’t resist ribbing the Gone Girl star a little. “I know it pained him to say every one of those words. So thank you very much,” the athlete quipped while accepting the award. “I’ve had a special relationship with my fans and my teammates over the last 20 years. But in retirement, I’ve come to realize that being part of the larger community of sports is a gift and, more importantly, it’s an honor.”
He went on to thank his fans, his teammates, and even his opponents, before turning the spotlight to the rest of the ESPYS crowd. “For me it was always the fellow athletes from all different sports that inspired me,” he said. “So I just want to take this moment to thank everyone here and congratulate all the athletes, the winners, the nominees, because you all deserve it. You’ve inspired me for years. You continue to inspire me.”
Affleck’s appearance at the ESPYS was just his second public event since he and Garner, 43, announced their split on June 30. He previously promoted Batman v Superman at San Diego Comic-Con on July 11.
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