"I wish he would have quit in '05," quipped Francona, who won the World Series with Boston in 2004. "No, you know what? If you're a baseball fan, he is the walking example of what's good in baseball. You respect him so much, and yet you want him to have as little to do with the outcome of a game if you're his opponent. That's probably the biggest compliment you can give him. He's going to find a way to beat you, whether it's on the bases, on defense or at the plate.
"And again, because I was in that division, I saw it too much. He ranks right up there with the most respected players. I'm glad he's walking away on his own terms. We'll probably get to see him seven times this year. I hope he goes 0-for-28 and we give him a nice plaque or something."
Francona said that during Boston's heated games with New York, Jeter always made a point to look toward him in the dugout before his first at-bat. And once Jeter began offering that sign of respect, Francona made sure to notice.
"Very few guys would I probably even pay attention," Francona said. "But with him, I have so much respect for how he did it. I saw him in the [Arizona] Fall League when he was 19, and I thought he was the same guy six, seven years, 10 years, 18 years later. And I mean that as a compliment."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.