Derek Jeter, who is the best shortstop in Yankees’ history and has always carried himself the right way on and off the field, announced today on his Facebook page that he will be retiring at the end of the season. It will truly be an end of an era because the Core Four of Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Jeter all will have retired.
Jeter is the Yankees’ career leader in games, hits and stolen bases, and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He is also second in doubles and third in runs scored. He is one of the best clutch baseball players in MLB history and can be considered the best shortstop of all-time. He has played the 37th most games in MLB history and could overtake Mel Ott for 26th place if he stays healthy.
Hal Steinbrenner, as George Steinbrenner’s son and the current principal owner of the Yankees, knew Jeter well and remarked about how much Jeter will be missed by the organization and the fans. “He is unquestionably one of the greatest Yankees ever. He has meant so much to fans, the organization, my father and out family,” Steinbrenner said.
He hit his first career homer on opening day in 1996 in his first season as the starting shortstop and hit a homer at Yankee Stadium for his 3,000th career hit. Going into the 2014 season, Jeter currently has 3,316 hits (10th place), and if he can repeat the amount of hits he had in 2011, he will finish with the sixth most hits in MLB history. Also, Jeter has the 13th most runs scored and if he scores as many runs as he did in 2011 he will overtake Stan Musial for 9th place.
He is the model that every young baseball player should follow. He did not showboat on the field, he always acted like he had been there before, he has always treated the media with respect, he was able to make all of the routine plays (as well as perfecting the jump throw into the hole) and went out of his way to help young players. Numerous players have either chosen to wear No. 2 because of him or have chosen to be a shortstop because of Derek Jeter.
Since Jeter’s rookie season in 1996, Jeter has had his Turn 2 Foundation. “Turn 2’s mission is to create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and “Turn 2″ healthy lifestyles. Through these ventures, the Foundation strives to create outlets that promote and reward academic excellence, leadership development, and positive behavior.”
Jeter always treated the higher-ups in the organization with respect as he was known for calling his long-time manager Joe Torre, Mr. Torre, and calling George Steinbrenner, who was the owner of the Yankees from 1973-2010, Mr. Steinbrenner. Torre, who is close to Jeter, had very complimentary remarks about Jeter’s character.
“You want your daughter to marry (him). He’s just a standup guy that’s got a great deal of character, which unfortunately there is not a whole lot of those people around anymore,” Torre said.
I will now go into some of his many memorable plays throughout his Hall of Fame career that were either clutch, prove that he does anything that it takes to win or a combination of the two.
The first one was in 1996 (when I was in the beginning of my baseball fandom) during the ALDS round of the playoffs against the Baltimore Orioles. Jeter, during his rookie season, hit a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth that tied the score at four. A 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the wall in right and snagged the ball helping Jeter get credit for the homer. This homer turned out to be critical in helping the Bronx Bombers win the game. The Yankees went on to win the game and their first of four championships in five seasons.
A second memorable play was when Jeter made his “flip play” in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. This play helped the Yankees win their first of three consecutive games after being down 2-0. After Shane Spencer missed both cut-off men in trying to get Terrence Long out at home, Jeter appeared out of nowhere to flip the ball to Jorge Posada just in time to get Long out at home. The Yankees ended up getting the 1-0 win. This play displays that Jeter has always made winning plays.
A third memorable play was Jeter’s walk-off blast off of Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim to win Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. As a result of his vintage homer to right field, the Yankees were able to tie the series at two, and earn Jeter the nickname Mr. November. This is because this was the first time that baseball had ever been played during November. The Yankees would lose the series after it went back to Arizona, but this was yet another time that Jeter came through with a homer when they team needed it.
A fourth memorable play was the epic Jeter dive into the stands during a regular season game on July 1, 2004 against the rival Boston Red Sox. It was a 3-3 game in the 12th inning with runners on second and third with two outs. He sacrificed his body as his momentum took him to crash into the seats after catching Trot Nixon’s line drive near the foul-line. He removed from the stands with a busted chin and other scrapes on his face.
A fifth memorable play was the aforementioned 3,000th hit. He had been struggling leading up to this milestone, but Jeter had a game against David Price and the Rays on July 9, 2011 that only he could have had. He was 5-for-5 and his 3,000th hit was a deep homer to left field. The whole team predictably mobbed him at home plate to congratulate him. Jeter is the fist Yankee in their storied history to reach 3,000 hits. After he already had his 3,000th hit, Jeter was impressively able to get the game winning single in the eighth inning.
There will never be another player quite like Derek Jeter. He is a role model to kids, is one of the greatest winners in the history of sports, he plays the game the right way and is an athlete with one of the most endorsements. It would be a fitting ending to a Hall of Fame career if Jeter is able to win his sixth World Series in his final season.