Monday, July 11, 2011

Derek Jeter Provides a Day of Joy

Last week, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter established a new standard for heroics, leading the Yankees to victory on Saturday afternoon while becoming the first player ever to achieve his 3,000th hit as a Yankee.

Already a Hero

Derek Jeter had established himself as a future Hall of Famer long before last week's magical moment. He became the all-time Yankee leader in hits in 2009. He's helped lead the Yankees to five World Championships. He's won five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, and he's been the MVP of both the World Series and the All-Star Game.

We wrote in 2009 that Jeter should be the American League MVP for that year, and while he didn't receive the award, his performance was worthy of MVP recognition. The same was true in 2006, when he did not receive the award but was indeed the most valuable player in the American League.

Jeter has been a hero off the field as well. He's provided many millions of dollars of charitable donations to worthy causes focused on helping children live healthy, safe lives while they demonstrate to their peers how to thrive as youth. He founded the Turn 2 Foundation when he was a rookie in the Major Leagues and had not yet become a multi-million dollar per year fixture in the Bronx. Derek Jeter has consistently done the right things and said the right things as a leader and as a man. His exemplary character and his extraordinary work ethic reflect the values of the household created by Jeter's parents.

I remember sitting in the old Yankee Stadium and cheering wildly as Jeter eclipsed Lou Gehrig to become the all-time Yankee hit leader. Afterward, when asked about the fans' excitement regarding his new record, Jeter said, "I didn't expect that many people to be out there after the rain delay considering how hard it was raining when we started the game, but the fans were incredible. It says a lot about how they feel about their team and more importantly how they feel about the history of their team. I appreciate each and every one that was there."
His special mix of humility, maturity, and talent make him the best Yankee and the most beloved Yankee of his era. He has defined some or all of three different decades for the world's most famous and most accomplished baseball team with three contemporaries, Mariano Rivera (the most accomplished closer in Major League history), Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada.

While Jeter will likely play for the Yankees until 2014 or later (and will give us many more special moments), we should pause today to celebrate his record of success and dedication to excellence.


This latest achievement makes Jeter the 28th player to achieve at least 3,000 hits. Millions of people around the world strive to be Major League baseball players.
Since the Major Leagues began in the 19th Century, approximately 17,000 players have participated. Only 27 players had achieved 3,000 hits prior to last week. On the Yankees, Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio, Berra, and all of the other legends ended their careers with less than 3,000 hits as Yankees. Though there are players who have achieved 3,000 hits and have played portions of their careers with the Yankees, no one in a Yankee uniform has ever passed that milestone.

Gehrig's career was cut short by illness, and DiMaggio's career was shortened by service in the military during WWII. But, nonetheless, DiMaggio finished with 2,214 hits, and Gehrig finished with 2,721. Derek Jeter stands alone amongst all Yankees in history.

To add some emphasis to the achievement, his 3,000th hit was a home run. Only one other player has ever hit a home run as his 3,000th hit. As amazingly, Jeter was five-for-five during the game that included the 3,000th hit. Only one other player has ever had five hits in the game that included the 3,000th hit. In so many ways, Derek Jeter stands alone amongst all players in Major League history.
As of this morning, Jeter has 3,004 hits. May he have many more hits and a long, happy life after baseball.

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