On Wednesday, I will celebrate my 42nd birthday. As far as birthdays go, it’s pretty nondescript. There’s nothing special about turning 42, and the fact that it falls on a Wednesday is the definition of dull.

I’ve had a few gray hairs for a couple years, and my knees have been a little creaky for a while, but this year is the year I finally feel old. I blame Derek Jeter.

You have to be completely oblivious or ignorant of Major League Baseball to have missed Jeter’s retirement lap around the American League this summer. In the offseason, Jeter announced that 2014 would be his last. In every city, the New York Yankees shortstop has been fetted with gifts and attention normally reserved for visiting royalty. Fox’s coverage of the All-Star Game was a big, wet, sloppy tongue kiss to Jeter.

I’m not a Jeter fan. I respect the way he’s played the game, but disliked the uniform in which he played it. I’ve cursed his name more times than cheered it, as Jeter has more big hits and defensive plays against the Boston Red Sox than anyone deserves.

I blame Jeter for making me old because we are almost the same age. When Jeter plays his final game later this month, it marks my generation’s passing from the professional sports landscape.

It happens to every generation. For my dad, it was Carl Yastrzemski. For some, it was Joe DiMaggio or Jim Brown. For fans a little older than me, it was Larry Bird or Michael Jordan.

Your peers retire, and you feel so, so old.

The first time I noticed I was the same age as an athlete I enjoyed watching was Drew Bledsoe. When the New England Patriots drafted Bledsoe in the spring of 1993, I was a junior at the University of Maine and 20 years old. I remember thinking, “that guy is only seven months older than me.”

Bledsoe retired after the 2006 season. He was 34. Maybe that’s when the hair around my temples started to turn gray.

When you see somebody your age compete at the highlight level, you get a certain kind of joy from their success, especially as they get older. They may have the same points of reference in their life; the Challenger disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf War, 9-11. Your era is out there on the field or court or ice, and it’s representing itself well.

Jeter made his Major League debut on May 29, 1995. He was 20. I was 22. It doesn’t feel like that long ago.

Former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown is 14 months older than me. He retired in 2007. Paul Kariya is two years younger than me. We were at Maine at the same time. He retired in the summer of 2011. Kevin Garnett was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995, the year I graduated from college. He hasn’t told the Brooklyn Nets if he’ll be back next season.

My generation’s athletic time has passed. There’s fans in their early 20s right now who will be thinking the same thing when Mike Trout, Kevin Durant and Andrew Luck say good-bye.

I’m 42. In the grand scheme of life, that’s not so old. In the grand scheme of sports, that’s ancient. Our time is gone. I’m going to go count gray hairs now.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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