In the final years of Chili Davis' career, his fresh-faced New York Yankees teammate used to call him an old man.

Davis, who was in his late 30s at the time, would just laugh and tell him: "Hopefully, you'll stick around long enough for someone to call you old man."

That fresh-faced kid grew up to be Derek Jeter.

And as the Yankees icon prepares to say farewell -- at the ripe-old age of 39 -- Davis is happy to welcome him to the old man club. Jeter has announced that this will be the final season of what will be a 20-year major league career.

"Derek Jeter has always been a class act,'' said Davis, set to begin his third season as the A's hitting coach. "It was an honor to play with him.

"Jeter and I hung out. And there's a reason you never any negative press about him: He treats people well. He's just a special person. The Yankees are going to miss him."

Davis, who started his career with the Giants in 1981, wrapped up his distinguished career by playing the 1998 and '99 seasons in the Bronx. The Yankees won the World Series and also provided Davis with an up-close look at the Jeter phenomenon.

Jeter made the first of his 13 All-Star teams in '98 and in '99 set his career-highs in homers (24) and RBIs.

"This guy was just a great teammate and a quality guys,'' Davis said in a phone interview from Arizona. "In New York at the time, there were just certain guys: Mariano Rivera. Paul O'Neill. Bernie Williams. Andy Pettitte.

"Jeter was the leader by example. And he's no different now than he was then."

Davis will get his chance to say goodbye to the old man this summer: The Yankees' only scheduled visit the Coliseum this season is three-game series June 13-15.

Contact Daniel Brown at dbrown@mercurynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercBrownie.