Derek Jeter's 3000th Career Hit Was a Perfect Moment

Jason Sapunka@moreSapunkaCorrespondent IIJuly 9, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the third inning for career hit 3000 while playing against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on July 9, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Around 2PM ET on July 9th, 2011, another moment in history was made at Yankee Stadium.

Entering the afternoon game between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Derek Jeter had notched 2,998 career hits. With a leadoff single in the first inning, the Yankees captain would be just one hit away when he stepped into the box for his next at-bat.

Born in Pequannock, New Jersey, in 1974, Jeter grew up an avid Yankees fan. His childhood dream was to become starting shortstop of the legendary franchise.

Despite the unlikely goal and seemingly unrealistic nature of it, parents Charles and Dorothy helped Derek understand the magnitude of his dream and provided guidance for the young ballplayer.

According to his 2001 book The Life You Imagine, Derek kept a full replica of the iconic pinstripes hung on his bedroom wall growing up, a constant reminder of his life's goal.

When Derek was drafted sixth overall in the 1992 draft the goal began to seem more likely. Eventually, Derek found himself in position as the Yankees' starting shortstop in 1996.

The American League Rookie of the Year won a World Series with the Yankees, ending the club's longest championship drought of 18 years.

The dream had come true, but when Charlie Hayes caught the final out of the 1996 season it was just the first of many storybook moments Jeter would find himself a part in.

In 1998 the New York Yankees won more games than any team in the history of baseball, challenged by only the 1927 murderer's row Yankees as the greatest team of all time.

After another two World Series championships, the Yankees entered 2001 on the heels of yet another dynasty and seemed poised to win their 27th title, the fifth in six years.

While the Yankees were eventually upset by the Arizona Diamondbacks in an incredible seven-game series, New York would not be without one of the most memorable moments in recent history.

The events of September 11th would result in the World Series being played on Halloween night.

With the Yankees down 2-1 in the series, and one out away from being put on the brink of elimination, Tino Martinez launched a two-run game-tying homer that sent the game into extra innings.

In the bottom of the 10th the game was still tied when Derek stepped up to the plate. As he walked to the batter's box, the clock struck midnight and baseball was being played in November for the first time in MLB history.

The lengthy at-bat against Byung-Hyun Kim went to a full count before Jeter launched an opposite field home run to win the game and tie the series.

An ecstatic Yankee Stadium would celebrate one of the most incredible moments in baseball history by belting out Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York." It seemed as though Jeter had lifted not only the Yankees ballclub, but the entire city as well.

This was just weeks after Jeter's incredible improvised flip play saved the Yankees season.

Down 2-0 in a first-to-three series against the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees were leading Game 3 1-0 in the seventh inning.

Terrance Long hit a line drive that bounced around the right field corner and looked to score baserunner Jeremy Giambi. Outfielder Shane Spencer's throw was off the mark, and would certainly not reach the plate on time. Jeter came across the infield from the shortstop position, picked up the ball by the first base line, and flipped to Jorge Posada.

Giambi was tagged out, and the Yankees won the game 1-0 and came back to win the series as well.

These moments came a year after Jeter led off Game 4 of the 2000 World Series by hitting the first pitch into the stands. The Yankees would end up winning the game by just one run, giving them a 3-1 series lead.

Yet another dramatic moment came after Jeter was named the 11th captain in Yankees history.

On July 1, 2004, during a regular season game against the Boston Red Sox, Jeter ran full speed from his shortstop position into foul ground in order to catch a pop-up. Despite being farther away than third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Jeter made the play.

Without time or space to slow down, Jeter had to jump over the wall and into the stands. Captain Clutch was bloody, but had made the play.

So, when Jeter sat on the brink of becoming the first New York Yankee to record 3,000 career hits, it really shouldn't have surprised anyone how the moment came.

With a full count and awaiting the eighth pitch of the at-bat from David Price, Yankee Stadium began chanting the captain's name.

By the time Price was ready to wind up, it seemed as though the entire stadium was chanting in unison, "De-rek Je-ter!"

The pitch was drilled to left field and over the wall, igniting the Bronx.

No. 3,000 could not have come in a more fitting fashion; the homer was more dramatic than anyone expected.

Today marks yet another step in Jeter's path to the Hall of Fame.


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