Letter To The Iron Horse

Jonnie ForbesCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees in the dugout during practice on February 25, 2003 at Legends Field in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Dear Lou,

How are you? Good I hope. How are my parents and grandparents? Yeah, I know. Please tell my mom I'll be quitting smoking this year.

Well, it's been a while since I've written to you, so I'll have to bring you up on a few things. The Yanks are doing well this year, and we expect them to make the playoffs. It's a great year so far, but something special is in the midst of happening.

Remember in 1923 when you played in the first Yankee Stadium? Well, we built a new stadium too, but it's right across the street from where you played. This year is the first year playing in it and the Yanks are making it a great year.

Anyway, remember that kid we brought up back in 1995? The shortstop, Derek Jeter? Well he's been having a hell of a career, or in your case a heavenly one. Tonight, he collected his two thousand, seven hundred and seventy-first hit...to tie your all-time Yankees hit record.

At 2,119 games, he's only 45 games behind you. He won't catch you in games played this year, but in the next game or two, he'll certainly become the Yankees All-time hits leader. We have no doubt that it could easily be another 70 years; since you hung up your spikes,  before any other career Yankee approaches that milestone.

When we brought him up, he was 20, only one year older than you when you started. He's not quite the power hitter you were, but he's as complete a player as is playing today. He's a 9 time All-Star and he's an on-base machine, with a career .846 OBP and he's swiped 300 bags so far. He's been to the Big Show 6 times and won 4 rings; and he's only missed the post-season once in his still going 14 year career.

He's the Yankee Captain now. About the only thing that's classier than his game, is him. He's got charity foundations that he sponsors and donates to. He's a media spokesman who presents the Yankee mission statement of victory with a class and charm that's nearly bulletproof. When we finished our last game last year at the old ballpark, he gave a speech that really only he could give. A speech like that hasn't been heard since you gave yours. Like you, this person is special.

He's better than decent at short. His .975 fielding percentage is highlighted by a nearly patented jump-throw he uses when making a play ranging far to his right. And like you, he gives it his all. Once he ran full speed toward the left field stands to make a play on a foul ball. He made the play, but his momentum carried him headfirst into the stands. When he came out, he looked like he'd gone a round with Joe Louis. Yeah, he finished the game.

He's had so many clutch hits he's often called Captain Clutch, but his situational awareness is astonishing. Once during a playoff game in Oakland (the Philadelphia A's to you), with a runner on first one of the A's ripped an easy double down the first base line that banged around in the corner before Shane Spencer could gather it. The A's tried to score their guy from first. Shane made a strong throw, but he missed the cut off man by a mile and the throw was 10 feet off line as well. Derek read all this and raced to a spot in foul territory off the first base line, some 100+ ft from his normal position to cut off the errant throw and flip the ball to Jorge who made the swipe tag just in time for the out. Very much like you and your career, it was something you had to see to believe.

Well Lou, I'm going to close this out for now. I like to believe that you, the Babe, the Clipper, the Mick and all the other legends have never really left our team. I know you've never left the hearts of those who saw you play. So if you're not too busy, watch Derek play the next game with us. You will all always be legends to us. For now, just make room for one more.