The Top 5 Moments of Derek Jeter’s Career
Saturday afternoon Derek Jeter connected for the 3,000th hit of his illustrious career. This accomplishment, while an amazing feat, is just another in a long list of highlights that has colored Jeter’s tenure. It got me thinking about what are the best moments of a career that has seen a vast array of them. Here’s my Top 5 Moments of the career of Derek Jeter – excluding World Series titles, cause let’s be honest, we’d have our top five list right there.
This was one of the best baseball plays I’ve ever seen. When I think Derek Jeter, this is one of the first things that leaps to my mind. It was July 1, 2004, Yankees – Red Sox from the Stadium. A looping pop fly was punched into short left field, just behind third base. As hope vanished that a play could be made Jeter came flying into the picture to make the catch, his momentum carrying him to stands as he dove into the 4th row. Jeter emerged bloody and bruised, but with the ball. It was an unbelievable play, I’d never seen that sort of disregard for one’s health in baseball. This is one of those plays that just epitomizes who Derek Jeter is. Forget everything else, he’s going to play the game at full speed and 110%. Just an unbelievable Jeterian play.
Any Yankee fan alive and awake for this game in 2001 will certainly remember this highlight. They’ll remember Derek Jeter stepping to the plate in game 4 of the 2001 World Series and belting a walk-off home run to right just seconds after the clock struck midnight on November 1st. Derek Jeter has so often been described as clutch, and this is probably the most vivid representation of why. He came through when it mattered. It was a great moment just months after 9/11 rocked New York City to its core. I’ll never forget the picture of Jeter with his fist in the air as he rounds first base. El Capitan indeed!
This is probably the single most iconic play of Jeter’s career. He’ll be remembered certainly for his Jeterian jump throw from deep in the hole in short, or the Jeterian inside-out swing to right field, but this may be the most legendary play of his entire career. In an elimination game, game 3 of the 2001 ALDS, Jeter again came through in the clutch, but with his glove this time. After a relay throw from right field horrifically missed the cutoff men, Jeter came flying from across the infield to take the ball and flip it to Posada just in time to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate. It saved the game for the Yankees and propelled them to a series win. It was a staggering, one of a kind play – the kind of effort driven, baseball savvy play that has been common throughout Jeter’s Yankee tenure and will most likely be the indelible, lasting memory of his career.
On September 11, 2009, Derek Jeter slapped a single down the right field line and passed Lou Gehrig for most hits as a Yankee. Just think about that for a second. Derek Jeter has more hits than any other Yankee. Ever. Seriously, think about the names he passed – this isn’t like he played for the Expos and had no one serious to pass…IT’S THE FREAKING YANKEES! Jeter has more hits as a Yankee than Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Mattingly ect. ect. ect. And people say he’s overrated. Ridiculous. An absolutely terrific moment at the stadium.
Maybe I place this here because it just happened, but for me 3,000 hits is the number one moment. Check back with me in fifteen years and maybe this whole list will have changed; but for now, I chose to celebrate Jeter joining a list of baseball greats that’s only 28 deep, including him. To reach 3,000 hits is a testament to the effort, stamina, consistency and talent that defines the career of the Captain. It was a fantastic moment Saturday afternoon, one that will not soon be forgotten by any Yankee fan lucky enough to see it. To have Jeter hit a bomb of a homer to tie the game and get his team going - then get three more hits, including the game winning RBI is not only astonishing, but the perfect microcosm of the Captain's near perfect career. Congrats to number two, Derek Jeter...number two.