When Derek Jeter Reaches 3,000 Hits, Will He Become the Greatest Yankee?

Johnny LawrenceCorrespondent IAugust 24, 2009

NEW YORK - AUGUST 08:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees runs to first base against the Boston Red Sox during their game on August 8, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Coca Cola.


The New York Yankees.

No other organization in baseball has built a brand quite like the Yankees.

Twenty-six World Championships, 57 seasons with at least 90 wins, 39 Hall of Fame players and managers.

Followers of the American League's most historically successful team take pride in the franchise's majestic legacy. Rival fans despise the overbearing media coverage and consistent success.

No matter which organization one decides to align with, this fact remains irrefutable: An inordinate amount of baseball's greats have donned the pinstripes.

Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig. Joe DiMaggio. Mickey Mantle.

In households from coast to coast, people who have never played catch or scarfed down a ballpark frank recognize these names.

DiMaggio emerged as one of America's most compelling public figures after marrying actress Marilyn Monroe in 1954. Ruth and Mantle garnered national attention juggling late-night drinking binges, women, and playing baseball at the game's highest level.

The spotlight has shined upon this American institution for the better part of a century.

But the Yankees have lacked one thing amidst their exceptional 107-year run.

A 3,000 hit player.

No one has cracked the 3,000-hit barrier with the Yankees.

The closest? Lou Gehrig at 2,721 hits.

Certain to receive widespread attention in the coming weeks, Derek Jeter sits 20 hits away from the Iron Horse at 2,701.

A two-time Silver Slugger recipient, Jeter has surpassed 200 knocks six times and complied a .317 batting average in his illustrious career.

As it stands, the 35-year-old Jeter ranks 59th all-time in hits and can ascend into the 40's by season's end. On August 16, he buzzed past Luis Aparicio to become the shortstop hits leader, quite an achievement for a kid who grew up in the Midwest.

"It's amazing what he's been able to accomplish," said manager Joe Girardi to a New York Daily News reporter. "And he's still got a lot of baseball left."

Unless Jeter abruptly retires after his current contract expires next year, the captain is a virtual lock to become the first Yankee to surmount 3,000 hits. It may be unrealistic to expect him to cross the bridge in 2010; the most realistic target date is early 2011, barring extended injury.

Beyond the hit category, Jeter may also leave New York the all-time stolen base leader. He sits 30 shy of Rickey Henderson who racked up 326 in just five seasons with the team.

In an interview with Yankee beat writer Bryan Hoch, Andy Pettitte displayed admiration for the shortstop he played 12 seasons with.

"He's got a slump-proof swing. It's amazing to watch."

Whether he hangs up the cleats next year, in 2015, or 2020, Jeter has secured his place in New York Yankee history amongst the mythical figures.