SAN FRANCISCO -- Derek Jeter's career will be remembered for Champagne.

Jalal Leach's is defined by a cup of coffee.

Leach played just eight games for the Giants in 2001, after spending more than a decade in the minors.

His big-league service consisted of 10 at-bats and Leach trails Jeter on the all-time hit list 3,374 to 1.

Still, the New York Yankees captain and the blip on he Giants' radar screen remain forever bound. They remain unlikely friends, the superstar and the sub. It's like Babe Ruth hanging out with Moonlight Graham.

Jeter and Leach will renew acquaintances again this weekend when the 13-time All-Star makes final scheduled stop in Oakland as part of his 2014 swan song.

Leach, now a scout, was there from the start. During a visit to AT&T Park last week, Leach recalled the day Jeter was summoned to the big leagues, in May 1995.

That's when Leach gave him some very unscoutly advice, telling him: "I'm sure they're not expecting much out of you, other than for defense. As long as you keep catching the ball like you've been catching it down here, I'm sure they'll be happy."

They were happy, all right. They were five World Series titles, five Gold Gloves and five Silver Slugger awards ecstatic.

Though he has established himself as a Yankees icon now, Jeter wasn't always beloved in the organization -- and that's where Leach comes in. It's why, in 2002, years after they first became friends, Jeter pulled his old minor-league teammate aside and said: "I've never forgotten what you did for me."


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What Leach did was welcome him warmly at a time when Jeter was getting some cold shoulder. When he played for Triple-A in 1994-95, the Columbus Clippers were a veteran-heavy club full of aging players looking for one last gasp in the big leagues. The roster in those years included Todd Benzinger, Darryl Strawberry, Oddibe McDowell, Matt Nokes and future A's manager Bob Melvin.

All of those players were over 30. Not all of them were happy to see the arrival of a hot-shot first-round draft pick from Kalamazoo, Mich.

"Right,'' Leach recalled. "He was The Prospect. The Golden Child. Whatever you want to call it.

Rather than resent the kid, Leach, who at 25 was five years older than Jeter, reached out. He did his best to make the kid feel comfortable. He told him what to expect at the Triple-A level, where pitchers finally had enough control to throw breaking balls in fastball counts.

"When he first got there, I thought he was really athletic -- and really raw,'' Leach recalled. "Not awkward, but a gangly kid.

"But the thing that I remember the most about Derek was his will to succeed. In his mind, it was always, 'I will.' 'I can.' He wasn't cocky, but he was confident."

Leach, meanwhile, had to wait for years to follow his friend to the majors. While Jeter was off winning rings, the outfielder was working through an endless maze of outrights, waivers and releases. Leach briefly served as the hitting coach at Class A San Jose in 1998 because nobody wanted him as a player.

By the time he retired for good, at age 35, Leach had amassed 1,569 minor league games. His lone big-league hit was a single off Octavio Dotel on Sept. 19, 2001.

Now, he and Jeter are teammates again. Leach is scout in the Yankees organization and is a regular at West Coast games. The two former Columbus Clippers stay in touch via social media and sometimes head out for dinner after Jeter plays in Oakland.

When reports first surfaced that this season would be Jeter's last, Leach texted his pal asking if it was true. Leach promptly posted a screenshot of Jeter's two-word confirmation to his Facebook page. It said: "Yes, sir."

Leach's young son, Dante, knew all that, but he didn't totally buy into his dad's friendship with the future Hall of Famer until a visit to Yankee Stadium in 2012. As Leach tells it, Jeter spotted him from afar and shouted: "There he is! There's that old man, my old friend."

"And then my son said, 'You really do know him, Dad!'"

That's also when Jeter got a chance to repay some of that long-ago kindness. Leach had been trying for months to get his son to ditch his blond Mohawk haircut that was popular on the kid's Little League team.

When the boy approached Jeter and asked him what it would take to play for the Yankees, the Captain would barely talk to him.

"First of all, you can't play for the Yankees with that hairstyle you got going on,'' Jeter told him. "You cut that off, come back and talk to me tomorrow."

The Mohawk was gone within 24 hours.

The friendship goes on forever.