By Joseph Yamulla, Contributing Writer ||
Regardless of who your favorite Major League Baseball team is, it is a sad time for baseball. Derek Jeter, one of the greatest and classiest players to ever play the game, is putting on the New York Yankees uniform for his final few times. It is the Yankees’ captain’s final ride.
When looking back in Major League history, there are few who have accomplished as much as the 40 year-old Yankees longtime shortstop. There are even fewer who have accomplished as much with as much respect and class as that of Derek Jeter in his 20 year career.
September 28th, 2014, will be the final time that the famous #2 Yankees uniform is worn, as the Yankees are retiring Jeter’s number after this season ends. Looking back at an extraordinary career over the past 19 years, Jeter’s stats place him in a special category, that only few can be compared. Derek Jeter has posted a career batting average of .309. He has an incredible 3,461 career hits, 260 home runs, 1,307 runs batted in (RBI), and an on base percentage of .377. Derek Jeter has played a total of 2,743 career games, all with the New York Yankees, which is the franchise record for most games played by an individual player.
Baseball fans saw some of the most spectacular Jeter magic during the postseason. He is the only player in the history of Major League Baseball to record 200 hits in the postseason. Derek Jeter is known for coming up biggest when the stakes are at their highest and the season is on the line. Jeter is a five time World Series champion, and a World Series MVP in 2000. The Yankees captain has also been an all-star fourteen times, and won the AL Rookie of the Year, five Gold Gloves, five Silver Slugger Awards, two AL Hank Aaron Awards, and the Roberto Clemente Award.
The Captain is also known for his respect for the game and his class. Not once, in his entire career, has Jeter ever gotten into any sort of trouble off the field. Playing in a game where many great players get caught using performance enhancing drugs, Jeter has spent his entire career clean, using his natural born abilities.
Along with being a truly respectable ballplayer, Jeter also is known for his consistent charity and philanthropic work. In 1996, he started the Turn 2 Foundation. This organization helps children and young adults avoid drugs and alcohol. It also rewards students for being high achievers.
Although the Captain is walking away from the game, his greatest moments will always be remembered. The game of baseball has been known to have a flare for the dramatic, and Jeter never failed to deliver. Some of Jeter’s most memorable moments occurred in 2001, playing for a city that still had a heavy heart after the September 11th terrorist attacks. When the American sports world needed a lift, Derek Jeter delivered with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning of the World Series. As soon as he hit the home run, the clock struck past midnight, giving him the nickname “Mr. November” since it the ball left the stands right when the month changed from October to November.
Jeter also accomplished a feat that no other Yankee achieved in 2011. That June, against the Tampa Bay Rays, he hit a dramatic home run off of David Price to reach the 3,000 hit mark.
Not Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, nor Mickie Mantle reached this milestone with the Yankees. However, perhaps Jeter’s perhaps most magical moment came in the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland Athletics when he made an incredible flip to home plate to tag out Jason Giambi and save the game for New York.
Baseball will not be the same without hearing “Now batting for the Yankees, number 2 Derek Jeter, number two”. He is one of the all-time greatest baseball players in the history of the game. He set records that are near impossible to be broken. Most importantly, he set a standard for how all ballplayers should carry themselves, with integrity respect and pride.
It was an incredible run for number two. Farewell Captain. Next stop, Cooperstown, New York, in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
First-year Joseph Yamulla is a contributing writer. His email is email@example.com.