By Will Martin
Derek Jeter just just turned 40 on June 26, 2014. July of 2011 on a home run he became the first New Yankee to amass 3,000 career hits.
Recently Jeter was nearing the #7 spot held by Carl Yastrzemski for all time hits in a career (3,419).
When you think New York Yankees and all time team records you can find Derek Jeter’s name in between the largesse and finesse of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of overall Yankee team records.
Up to and including:
1. Plate appearances (12,362)
2. At Bats (10,971)
3. Hits (3,423)
4. Singles (2,554)
5. Doubles (535)
6. Strikeouts (1,809)
7. Stolen Bases (355)
8. Games Played (2,698).
Drafted in 1992 his rookie season was the same one when Cal Ripken Jr. rewrote the record book for consecutive games played September 6 of that year.
Ripken began his run on May 28, 1982. He set a nice standard for shortstops and iron men.
Jeter made his debut May 29, 1995. 13 years and one day later. To know that your name will endure in the annals of baseball, to know that a 20-year career will land you into the Hall Of Fame, to know that your legacy will go on long after you have moved on.
Fans of New York must be feeling a certain twinge of Deja Vu. Last year the world said goodbye to the greatest saves guy of all time in Mariano Rivera. Given a great sendoff wherever he went and a hugely popular player on and off the field.
In an era where baseball suffered a black eye with juiced up statistics Derek Jeter was able to perform on the largest stage of all and just do his job. I’ll never forget the level of leadership exhibited from 1996-2000 as New York was winning World Series after World Series (save for a 1997 meltdown at the Jake in the playoffs).
A demeanor that defied playing in Gotham. An upbringing that had him playing ball in the Wolverine state in the city that was made famous courtesy of an old Broadway song. Old timers will tell you this verbatim.
In paying homage to Murderer’s Row the lyrics to the tune went, ‘Hit The Ball Babe! Hit The Ball Lou! Hit It All The Way To Kalamazoo!’
Kalamazoo was where #2 attended high school.
We saw Derek Jeter visit Arlington for the final time in a 20-year career. The moment was not lost on the Yankee Captain as he addressed the media July 28 at Globe Life Park!
“I’ve enjoyed coming here and playing,” Jeter said Monday. “We’ve had some good battles with them in the postseason, both on the good side and the bad side for us. But I’ve always enjoyed playing in this stadium. It’s one of the places I’ll miss playing.”
To the point that Derek hit ten homers, had 40 rbi’s in 72 visits while hitting .333
One memory that will stay with me was Mother’s Day 2011-May 8th. The very day the Dallas Mavericks were completing a four game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers down the road (sending Phil Jackson into retirement) I saw #2 have himself a 4-hit game. Two of those hits were for homers as he finished that day with 2,960 hits.
So much for all the talk about Derek Jeter being washed up. Two months later on a 3-2 pitch Jeter would get hit #3,000 off the arm of Rays pitcher David Price to become the first pinstriper to reach that mark.
When healthy very few had the grace and range that #2 had in the field. A gazelle like fluidity when the ball went into his outstretched glove for an improbable force play or across the body heave to first base. Derek made it look so easy.
Oh yes, who remembers that moment right before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium? On the heels of the World Trade Center attacks on 9-11-01 it was an emotionally charged ballpark with the Diamondbacks nursing a 2-0 lead.
George W. Bush came onto the field to throw out the first pitch. And nailed it with a high strike!
#2 was standing nearby telling the President to, ‘Throw a strike and don’t let the ball hit the dirt. They’ll boo you if you do.’
Prior to that Wednesday night’s game the Rangers honored Derek Jeter with a pre-game ceremony replete with a pair of black cowboy boots emblazoned with his name, the Yankees logo and the number 2. He also was given a $10,000 check for his Turn 2 Foundation.
Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez stood at home plate to honor the Yankee great when one time Rangers owner George W. Bush came out to honor Derek Jeter, presenting him with a framed picture of the two of them from that 2001 game.
It was quite the moment to see the number of cameras and phones flashing with each at bat for Derek Jeter. 13 years prior almost to the day Cal Ripken Jr. made his final appearance in Arlington to cap a 20 year career. It seemed the cameras were more prevalent in 2001.
Indeed quite the parallels for Cal Ripken Jr. and Derek Jeter. Both started their careers right around Memorial Day Weekend 13 years apart. Both make a final appearance in Texas 13 years apart the final week of July.
Still the only ballplayer to win the MVP of an All-Star Game and World Series in the same year (2000). Playing in the city of that other team of the 90’s (Turner Field-Atlanta) Jeter went 3 for 3 and shared the following afterwards that July 11 evening.
“Right now, I’m very happy, obviously. But I think in due time, when I sit down and get a chance to reflect on it, then you realize how special it is. And I wasn’t aware that no other Yankee had won this award, and it’s kind of hard to believe.”
Quite possibly the same sentiment he’s going to have when he takes his final at bats in Boston on September 28, 2014. The Fenway Faithful exuded incredible class when doing the same to one time Yankee Reggie Jackson 27 years prior.
Snap of finger…20 years have come and gone. Derek Jeter provided one hell of a mosaic.
Thank You #2!