BASEBALL’S GREATEST GAMES: DEREK JETER’S 3,000TH HIT

| September 20, 2011

“Hopefully, he can play himself in his own movie,” said Tampa Bay Rays outfielder and former Yankee, Johnny Damon, about his old teammate Derek Jeter after the Rays lost to the Yankees on July 9, 2011, the day that Derek Jeter got his 3,000th hit.
In the weeks leading up to this landmark event, the 2011 baseball season was still looking like a sub-Jeterian one. For the second year in a row, Jeter was hitting well below his usual .300 batting average and it was more than enough to convince people that the kid was getting old, that he had lost it. On top of that, the consistently healthy shortstop had landed himself on the DL just as he was knocking on history’s door. So, maybe people weren’t expecting the old Jeter magic or anything of mythic Yankees proportions.
No one knew when the hit would come, whether it would an inside-out double, a clean single up the middle, or an infield hit. Nevertheless, New York was buzzing with excitement. They wanted to witness their Captain become only the 28th man in Major League Baseball history to reach that milestone, and remarkably enough, the only New York Yankee to do it. Fans didn’t only feel excited, they felt privileged.
Derek Jeter’s entire life seems as charmed as they come. He grew up in a loving and supportive household in Kalamazoo, Michigan, rooting for the New York Yankees, and he never stopped dreaming that one day he would play shortstop for them. He not only got to wear the uniform, but would become the Captain of the team, the pride of the Yankees and of New York City. He would win five World Series Championships and rack up more hits than any other Yankee before. And, he would do it with quiet dignity, with unwavering sportsmanship and respectful pride for his team, its history, and the fans.
In the first inning, Jeter gets hit number 2,999 and Yankee Stadium becomes feverish with excitement, as the realization sets in with the fans–they could very well get to see 3,000. They wouldn’t have to wait long. In the third, Jeter battled Rays pitcher David Price in a long at-bat that resulted in a long hard blast to left center, probably as far as a Derek Jeter home-run has ever gone. And, the new Yankee Stadium, christened with a Championship in its inaugural year, erupted as it never did before in its short existence.
And, No. 2 for the Yankees got the opportunity to round the bases and meet his teammates at home plate, each almost gleeful with excitement and entirely in awe of what had just happened. The Tampa Bay Rays stood outside their dugout clapping and David Price left the mound to let Mr. Jeter have his moment, let him accept every congratulations, let him acknowledge his family and his fans. It was grand, from becoming only the second person to hit a home run for his 3,000th hit (the other was Wade Boggs) to the explosively appreciative home crowd to the reception. Grand.
That would have been enough, but Jeter would go 5-for-5 in the game and yes, he would even drive in the winning run. Its almost too much. “If I had tried to have written it and given it to someone,” Jeter said of the script that played out, “I wouldn’t even have bought it.”
And that is precisely why Derek Jeter’s 3,000th Hit is a wonderfully appropriate (and timely) addition to Major League Baseball Productions’ Baseball’s Greatest series. Of all the greats that have worn pinstripes–Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Micky Mantle–Derek Jeter stands above all of them with hits, the only Yankee to ever to reach the 3,000 hit milestone. That in itself is beyond significant, but the way it happened was unbelievable yet completely fitting.
This DVD in particular is enjoyable, because it offers great bonus features, such as post-game interview footage with Jeter and footage of several of Jeter’s other milestones. Baseball fans generally respect and admire Derek Jeter. Even Yankee haters can appreciate his contribution to the game and recognize that he’s one of the very few that encompasses all that is good about baseball, and this DVD is a perfect testament to his greatness.

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