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Jeter Downs details recent chance encounter with idol, namesake

The fact that Jeter Downs is named after Derek Jeter thanks to his mother’s admiration of the New York Yankees legend is hardly a shocker, and to no surprise the MLB prospect grew up idolizing “The Captain.”

The new Boston Red Sox middle infielder — acquired in the mega-deal that shipped Mookie Betts and David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers — crossed paths with his namesake just last week. It occurred during a completely random encounter at a traffic light in Miami, something Downs shared with the media on Wednesday.

“I was driving, me and my brother were driving to go to train,” Downs said, as relayed by John Tomase of NBC Sports Boston. “My brother, we’re in traffic. He sees this Range Rover pulling up. He was like, ‘Oh my God, is that Jeter?’ He honks and I wave at him.

“I’m doing training with Raul Ibanez. I called Raul and said, ‘Tell Jeter that the kid he was waving at was Jeter.’ So then he told him that and it was pretty cool that I met him that way.”

That brief encounter was only a precursor to Downs actually getting the opportunity to meet Jeter, albeit virtually. A friend of his was at a Marlins event and convinced Jeter to FaceTime with Downs.

“I’ve idolized him my whole life,” Downs said. “It was finally good to meet him and talk to him a little bit. It was definitely special.”

Downs admits that having the first name Jeter led to endless questions and attention throughout his life, but the 21-year-old prospect is proud by what the tangential connection entails.

“I obviously have the name, so I kind of had to be a fan of his,” Downs said. “I idolized him – the way he played, the way he went about the game, the things he did, how he was respected by every single team. It was pretty cool as a kid. I don’t care what team you’re from. It was just cool to watch a guy like that.”