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An Ode to Derek Jeter and His 3,000 Hits

Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images

Oh Captain, My Captain! Saturday afternoon Derek Jeter connected for his 3,000th career hit.  He would go on to collect four more hits, including the game winner in a Yankee win.  It’s the latest and greatest personal achievement in a career that has seen him tally a Rookie of the Year award, five Golden Gloves, one World Series MVP, and five World Series Championships to name a few accomplishments.  As a life long Yankee fan who started paying attention to sports when Jeter was a rookie, this day was particularly special.  So come along with me, if you will, as I wax poetic about one of the greatest Yankees of all time.

My life in Yankee fandom has known nothing but Derek Jeter.  Spoiled? Certainly.  Taking it for granted?  Absolutely not.  Saturday’s left field home run for hit for number 3,000 is just another in a list of cherished Jeter memories including his running catch ending with a swan dive into the twenty-fifth row against the Red Sox (may be an overstatement), “The Flip” against the A’s, and his “Mr. November” home-run against Diamondbacks in what is for my money the greatest World Series ever played (despite the Yankee loss in seven games).

As William Shatner once sang: ” [He's] beauty and [he's] grace…[he's] elegance and taste.”  Forget for a moment that the next words of that song are “She’s Miss United States” and just let them wash over you.  I can’t really think of a better description of the Captain’s game.  His on field play has been sort of beautiful, with an unparalleled grace and ease.  Off the field, unlike so many of the super star athletes of his era, Jeter has displayed impeccable elegance and taste.

Isn’t Jeter exactly what we look for in a sports star?  Isn’t he the type of superstar we’ve all yearned for?  He’s broken the mold of diva-esq stars who’s talent was equaled only by the turmoil that surrounded them.  Controversy and contention has never been the norm with Derek Jeter.  Where others have been curt, crude or outright rude, the Captain has been the steadfast professional – playing his game at the highest level and letting it speak for itself, while never giving anything but his absolute best and with a certain and consistent flair for the dramatic.

I know haters will hate, but any objective and rational thinking sports fan (even Sox fans) must admit that Derek Jeter has been the indelible and shining example of what it means to be a Yankee – his talent is extraordinary, and paralleled only by his character off the field.  Derek Jeter is undoubtedly the greatest Yankee short-stop of all time and top five on the list of all-time Yankee lore.  His distinguished, nay, ILLUSTRIOUS career will land him as a first ballot hall of famer, a legend for years to come.

Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

To be a Yankee fan and watch this short-stop superstar, this dynamo of the diamond, this veritable baseball virtuoso, has been nothing short of a prodigious pleasure. A pleasure that I and millions of other Yankee fans have soaked up every second of, like a desert flower soaking up every last bit of moisture, like a man slowly going blind soaking up his last bit of sunlight.

What?

……

What?

I said I was going to wax poetic.

Congratulations to Derek Jeter for joining the list of men to collect 3,000 hits – a list including Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and other baseball greats – legends of the game alongside of whom Derek Jeter certainly belongs.  Derek Jeter, a player who showed us that great talent can also mean great character.  Congratulations, Captain.

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