On Saturday, Derek Jeter joined Major League Baseball’s exclusive 3,000 hit club passing Roberto Clemente by 3 hits. For those of you who don’t know, I am a Yankees fan. My home town of Columbus, OH is where the AAA team of the New York Yankees organization used to be located – The Columbus Clippers. Darryl Strawberry who was my all-time favorite player as a kid was a Clipper, as was Dwight Gooden, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter. Since then, the Columbus Clippers have become the Cleveland Indians’ Minor League team, but my love for the Yankees has not wavered.
I had been following Jeter’s quest for 3,000 hits and all seemed to be moving smoothly until he came up with a strained right calf in a game against Cleveland. Lost in the hectic week that followed, I found myself searching the program guide of my cable provider looking for the next Yankees televised game, hoping I could watch the game in which Jeter would get his 3,000th hit. I couldn’t miss it! I didn’t want to have to see history played out on a Sports Center highlight reel. So when I saw that the Yankees were scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday at 1pm I knew this would be my best chance to see history, with Jeter only 2 hits off his mark. What I did not know was how special that game would be.
Derek Jeter ended up with 5 at bats and 5 hits. He also scored 2 runs and 2 RBI’s. When he stepped up to home plate for his second at bat with 2,999 hits, I sat in my apartment anticipating the crack of his bat. David Price delivered the pitch and Jeter hit a solo home run shot into the stands. The only other MLB player to hit a home run for their 3,000th hit was Wade Boggs on August 7, 1999, ironically as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In my mind, Derek Jeter has now not only solidified his legacy as one of the greatest Yankees of all time, having already become the Yankees all time hits leader when he passed Lou Gehrig, but also his legacy as one of the greatest MLB players of all time by passing the 3,000 mark. (Jeter is also the only player in MLB history to earn all 3,000 hits while wearing a Yankee uniform) When Pete Rose (AKA Charlie Hustle) bulldozed his way to 3,000 hits playing for the Big Red Machine, he was 37 – the same age as Derek Jeter. Barring injury, will Jeter surpass the great Pete Rose and become MLB’s all-time hits leader? If so, I hope that I will have the opportunity to hear the crack of his bat in that game as well. But going 5 for 5 in Yankee Stadium and getting your 3,000th hit on a homerun will be tough to top as an encore if he finds himself 2-3 hits out of 4,000. That’s why these are the games baseball fans will be talking about for as long as baseball is played. These are the games in which legends are born. The only thing better would have been to actually have been at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, with my dog and beer in hand, to witness it in person – mustard and relish…hold the ketchup please!