I have been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. I do not remember a world without baseball. I also do not remember a world without Derek Jeter playing baseball. On Sunday, September 28th, 2014, somewhere around 5:00 PM, that will end. There will be baseball, but there will no long be Derek Jeter in baseball. The New York Yankees sit at 80-75, four games out in the Wild Card and already eliminated from the American League East.
Jeter has been the face of Major League Baseball for years. Over his 20-year career, he has been considered one of the best shortstops to play the game, one of the best Yankees, one of the hardest workers, and one of the classiest of players. On May 30, 2001, he visited Fenway Park. Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox beat Mike Mussina and the Yankees 3-0. Sound familiar? I wouldn't imagine it does; the game, as great as Pedro pitched, is not one of the remembered Red Sox vs. Yankees games; however, for me, a ten year old finally getting to see the Yankees play, it is a game I will never forget. As the Yankees were jogging in from taking infield and batting practice, I called for Jeter asking him to sign my baseball. He stopped short of the dugout and put up his hand asking for the ball. It is my prized possession. One of my favorite players of all time.
Jeter has many moments that more people can relate to...what are his best moments as a member of the New York Yankees?
In 2000, already playing in his fourth World Series, Jeter hit .409 with two home runs, a triple and two doubles to win the World Series MVP, and his fourth ring. 2001, one of only two titles that he was a part of but did not win, saw him hit a walk-off home run in game four, marking the first time baseball had been played in November and earning him the nickname, Mr. November.
One of his most iconic plays came only six years into his career. With the Yankees leading the Oakland Athletics 1-0 in the seventh inning of game three of the 2001 ALDS, the A's had Jason Giambi on first and Terrence Long at the plate. Long ripped a double down the right field line. Giambi was waved around third as the throw from right missed both cutoff men. Jeter came darting across the infield, fielded the ball and flipped it to Jorge Posada at the plate to preserve the lead. The Yankees were facing elimination in the game but went on to win the series.
In 2003, owner George Steinbrenner named Jeter captain of the Yankees, an honor that only ten before him had accomplished. There may be other captains around Major League Baseball, but none that are as accomplished or respected like The Captain, Derek Jeter.
In 2009, Jeter recorded his 2,722 hit, which passed Lou Gehrig, possibly the most underrated baseball player of all time, and making Jeter the Yankees all-time hit leader.
Two years later, Jeter recorded his 3,000 career hit in the least Jeter like fashion you could imagine. When you think of a Jeter hit what do you think of? Exactly. An inside out swing and smacking a liner to the opposite field. Not this time. Apparently Jeter has a flair for the dramatic (like we didn't know that already.) Already 1-1 on the day, Jeter took a 3-2 breaking ball from David Price deep in his second at bat, to record number 3,000. He joined Wade Boggs as the only other player to homer for hit number 3,000 and joined Craig Biggio as the only other player to get five hits on the day he got number 3,000.
There are many, many more moments that show the kind of player Jeter has been over the years. He was been a true competitor and a great player to have in the game. Sunday will be a sad day for baseball. They will be losing the face of the game. Yes, Mike Trout seems to be in line to take over, but nobody will ever be Jeter.
You better believe that I will be at Fenway Park on Sunday to give Jeter one last standing ovation and I hope to see the rest of Red Sox Nation stand and applaud the great career that was.
Thank you, Derek Jeter, for helping me fall in love with such an amazing game. The game and its fans will miss you more than you can imagine.
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