"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: Derek Jeter 3000th hit


(Note: this story was edited on 7/20)

Derek Jeter got his 3000th hit recently, had you heard? Not only did he notch his safety, he owned the game in which he reached the cherished milestone. I thought that was as remarkable as the career achievement – with so much promised, he still managed to over-deliver on the contract.

The fans didn’t have to wait around for it. He needed two hits and and got them his first two trips to the plate. It was homer to boot. And then he stuck around, got three more hits and won a dramatic game versus a division rival with a tie-breaking hit in the bottom of the eighth. He turned his 3000th hit into an unforgettable event. That’s Jeter’s gift; that’s his style.

I had to wonder if any other member of the 3000 hit club ever rose to the occasion in such a fashion. I remember Pete Rose pursuing 4000 and Ty Cobb’s record. And at that time Rod Carew was piling up hits and sealing his place in rap lyrics. But honestly, how they got there was lost to me.

I wonder if that is an unconscious reason behind the rampant Jeter bashing surrounding the hit and All-Star pass? His performance and Yankee fans’ constant retelling of his performance will make his 3000th hit indelible. But other Hall of Famers are not so lucky. Is it because they didn’t do it with as much style as Derek? Or is it another example of the New York Yankees and their fans blocking out the sun?

Turns out, I think, to be both. I checked out each milestone hit from Pete Rose’s 4000th all the way through Derek Jeter’s 3000th to see what I missed, what I should have seen, along the way. Look, there’s no way around it, Jeter’s milestone game was the best. The homer and the five hits would have given him a solid argument, the game winning RBI in the eighth ends the discussion.

But I had no idea how many other great Hall of Famers just dominated their games like Jeter did. As recently as 2007, Craig Biggio also had five hits on his big day. I confess, until a few mentions in the media after Jeter’s five hits, I had no idea that happened.

Tony Gwynn and Geroge Brett had four hits a piece. Wade Boggs had three hits and was the first to celebrate 3000 with a home run trot (that I remembered). Paul Molitor, who also had three hits, is the only guy to do it with a triple.

I was paying attention as 15 players passed huge hit totals, and ten of them did it with multi-hit games. Seven had three or more. Their cumulative average in these 15 games is .594. It’s too small a sample from which to draw a conclusion, but it does make you wonder if elite players, pumped up for this kind of moment, might benifit from the extra adrenaline or something.

As bad as it was to take shots at Jeter as he approached 3000 (of these 15 players, eight had OPS+ below 100 during their chase and only two or three of them could be considered to have had “good” seasons), it is equally terrible to celebrate his triumph as if it has never been done before.

It’s like the Red Sox fans celebrating the 2004 World Series as if it was the first title ever won by anybody in the history of anything. When you lose context, you piss off everyone but your core constituents. And as much as Derek Jeter deserves to celebrate, the celebration is about putting his name directly underneath and alongside Carl Yastrzemski, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron and all the other all-time greats in this club.

He didn’t jump to the top of the list just because he went five for five.

That was his gift to Yankee fans.


When I revisited this story in my head last night I realized a mistake. It’s not Boston’s fans or Jeter’s fans who are to blame for over-reacting to the 2004 World Series or to the 3000th hit. They’re not the ones who are required to interject perspective during their uninhibited expressions of joy. It’s the national media who are responsible. But instead of playing that role and providing context for the rest of the sporting world, now they pander to the local fan base to make a buck.

And of course, being a good winner about such things and not rubbing it in goes a very long way to dispelling the blowback. So that’s where the fans come in, and as we all knows fans of all stripes, every faction has their guilty parties.

Three K, Whadda Ya Say?

Some more shots from Derek Jeter Day, 2011.

Here’s my scorecard.

A nerd at work.

And here’s when the wife took over…

“Ambulate to first,” that’s a walk. “Cue P.C. Richards,” that’s a strikeout. “Home Rupton,” that’s when B.J. Upton hit a home run. I like that one, Chris Berman, you paying attention?

And here’s a shot of the crowd when Jeter got his big hit:

A Day to Remember

A little bit of Reggie in Derek’s performance today, huh? The man has a flair for the dramatic. He lived up the hype and then some. A magic moment for Jeter and Yankee fans everywhere. I was with the wife in the Todd Drew seats. Never forget it.

Jeteronomy the Milestone: V

Reggie Jackson was my idol when I was growing up. He was more than just a Yankee and I stuck with him when he signed with the Angels. My favorite Yankees were Ron Guidry and Willie Randolph. Later on, I loved Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson but Don Mattingly was my guy. Which is to say that there is something about the quiet guys that I’ve always admired. Derek Jeter is one of those guys.

But Jeter is more than just a Yankee too, he’s Mr. Yankee. You can argue that Mariano Rivera has been the most crucial Yankee of the past generation. He is the best short-closer of ’em all, but he’s not the public face of the franchise. Jeter is and it’s hard to write about him and not stumble into a field of cliches–he’s the modern Joe DiMaggio, polite but removed, guarded, plastic. He hustles, never complains, and “plays the game the right way.”

All of which is true but here’s what I’ll always remember about Jeter: he looks like he is having fun. He’s composed, the good student who knows enough to cut a joke when the teacher isn’t looking, not effusive like Jose Reyes, but I’ve rarely seen Jeter not enjoying himself on the field. The opposing players all seem to like him and he’ll chat with the catcher or the first baseman. He smiles–he’s no DiMaggio, he’s not Garbo–and he loves the competition of the game, the big moment. Here’s Tom Boswell:

Baseball has a name for the player who, in the eyes of his peers, is well attuned to the demands of his discipline; he is called “a gamer.” The gamer does not drool, or pant, before the cry of “Play ball.” Quite the opposite. He is the player, like George Brett or Pete Rose, who is neither too intense, nor too lax, neither lulled into carelessness in a dull August doubleheader nor wired too tight in an October playoff game. The gamer may scream and curse when his mates show the first hints of laziness, but he makes jokes and laughs naturally in the seventh game of the Series.

That’s Jeter. Doug Glanville, a former teammate, offers a sharp appreciation today in the Times:

Jeter’s career has been more like a plateau curve. He came on the scene at 20, made a near-instant impact, then stayed remarkably consistent and virtually injury-free year in and year out, cruising on a plane of excellence. In many respects, he spoiled us. When you progress on a flat line, outside observers are lulled into the tacit expectation that this is how it’s supposed to be. Players like this produce so deceptively that we miss the escalating work ethic required to stave off age, the sheer dominating focus it takes to be so steady at such a high level.

Now we are watching him slow down, finding out that not even Jeter can avoid the human condition. The fact that the Yankees won 14 of 18 games during his recent time on the D.L. is a reminder that even great personal accomplishment stands on shaky ground when it comes to a humming team machine. So Jeter has two ways to go. He could take his foot off the pedal and ride gravity down the gradual curve to the bottom. Or, it could end much as it began for him and he’ll go down as precipitously as he rose in the game, though his superhero status in the eyes of his supporters may grant him a parachute to soften the landing.

I was at the Stadium one day early in Jeter’s rookie year when I heard a girl yell his name: “Deh-rick Gee-dah.” She had a classic New York accent and she screeched his name again and again. I still here that voice in my head when I see him play. I appreciate that he takes his job seriously but  is grounded enough to realize he’s playing a game. He’s never forgotten to enjoy the ride. And we’ve enjoyed it along with him. What more can you ask?

[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News]

Jeteronomy the Milestone: IV

I remember the day that Derek Jeter was drafted in June of 1992. Those were dark days for the Yankees, and the shortstop position was a revolving door of mediocrity. Andy Stankiewicz played 116 games at short in 1992, and before that we endured three years of Alvaro Espinoza, and two seasons each from Rafael Santana, Wayne Tolleson, Bobby Meacham, and Roy Smalley. When Jeter was drafted, all I hoped for was a serviceable player who might last a while. A Hall of Famer? I didn’t know what that looked like.

What I don’t remember is when he became my favorite player. There was no moment. I was twenty-six years old when the twenty-one year Jeter assumed the starting job at shortstop, but when I looked at him, I saw myself. Just like Jeter, I had been born of a black father and a white mother, I had grown up a Yankee fan in Michigan, and my childhood ambition had been to play shortstop for the New York Yankees. He was I, if my dreams had come true.

You know how it is with your favorite player. His name is the first you find in the morning box score, you feel a strange type of pride when he’s elected to start an All-Star game, and his at bats serve as mileposts during the course of a three-hour ballgame. And so it was for me with Jeter. Even in seasons when the Yankees clinched a playoff position in early September, I still tracked Jeter’s hits as he pushed towards 200, and I probably started thinking about the possibility of 3,000 hits as long as ten years ago.

And with Jeter, I think I’ve finally figured out why it is that old fans always have old players as their favorites. I’m old enough now to realize that I probably will never have another favorite player. There will be guys that I’ll like more than others on the roster — Robinson Canó, for example, or maybe even Jesús Montero if he develops — but that’s all they’ll ever be.

Thirty years from now my granddaughter will be telling about the most recent exploits of her favorite player, and I’ll listen intently before giving my variation of what we’ve all heard before: “You should’ve seen Derek Jeter play; he was something to see.” I’ll probably start with the jump pass from deep in the hole, pantomime the inside-out swing, and explain how he was better with his back to the plate than any shortstop I’d ever seen. I’ll recount the dive into the stands against Boston, the flip to get Giambi in the playoffs, and the World Series home run that earned the Mr. November nickname.

But the memory that I’ll do my best to give her comes from Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series on October 3, 2006. Jeter had singled in the first, doubled in the third, singled in the fourth, and doubled again in the sixth as the Yankees opened a comfortable lead and seemed poised to cruise through the series against the overmatched Detroit Tigers. When Jeter came up in the eighth with the game already in hand, it was a love fest. With fans standing and MVP chants raining down from the upper deck, Jeter took a 1-1 pitch from Jamie Walker and crushed it to center field for a home run, the perfect cap to a perfect five-for-five night. The M-V-P chants quickly gave way to the ubiquitous “De-rek-Jee-ter!” sing-song, which rolled around the Stadium until Jeter came out for a curtain call, then continued through Bobby Abreu’s at bat.

In the clubhouse that night back-up catcher Sal Fasano explained it in words that have stayed with me ever since: “It gives you goose bumps. It’s amazing to see the love the New York fans have for Jeter. It’s like when you were a kid when your favorite player hit a home run and you jumped up and down. Well, here there are 50,000 people, and to all of them Jeter is their favorite player.”

That’s who he’ll always be to me. I’ll do my best to help my granddaughter understand.

[Photo Credit: Tim Farrell/The Star-Ledger]

Jeteronomy the Milestone: III

There are several obstacles cluttering unfettered enjoyment of Derek Jeter’s quest for his 3000th hit. The only legitimate one is Derek’s poor statistical season thus far. But that’s easily cancelled out by the Yankees’ overall excellence. The rest are manufactured by either a burgeoning wave of critics feeling the need to diminish the player, question his contract and place in the batting order, or by a thundering chorus of fanboys and girls drooling over every dribbler. Count me with the latter I suppose, if I have to choose sides.

But screw all of that. Just because there is a lot of noise and nonsense surrounding the hit doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to relish the moment on our own terms. For me that means several hours on baseball-reference.com sifting through the leader boards. One of the things you hear about Jeter’s milestone is that it’s surprising that no other Yankee has ever accomplished the feat. And the first few times I heard that, I mindlessly agreed, “Yeah, where’s the Yanks’ 3000 hit guy?”

But upon further review, it’s not that common, or easy, for a franchise to be able to “claim” a 3000th hit. There are 27 players with 3000 hits. Only 14 of them have acquired hits one through 3000 for their original team. And if you want to ease the requirements on the claim to getting your 3000th hit on the same team for which you accumulated the most hits, we can add another five. In all, only 15 franchises can claim a 300oth hit for their ledgers in this way. And that includes franchises like the Giants and the Braves that moved around during their players’ quests (Mays and Aaron).

Four franchises are lucky enough to have two. The Cards (Musial and Brock), the Tigers (Kaline and Cobb), the Pirates (Wagner and Clemente) and Cleveland (Speaker and Lajoie). Only Detroit has two pure claims as both Cobb and Kaline went wire to wire in the Motor City. The Yankees of course did have three players eventually get 3000 hits, but none of Winfield, Henderson nor Boggs achieved the milestone while Yankees. At least Winfield got more hits in a New York uniform than in any others, but that’s not enough to stake any kind of claim.

And obviously, it’s not just that Yankee fans are whining about not getting a fair distribution of the 3000 club. We’re surprised they’ve had such great players, among the best ever, and even still don’t have a clear 3000th hit. But among those titans of the game, they’ve never had the right mixture of health, peace, and free-swinging needed to amass such a huge total.

When Jeter gets number 3000, he’ll be only the 15th player to get his first 3000 hits with the same club. The Yankees are used to draping themselves in banners and tripping over trophies, and yes this has eluded their clutches thus far, but it’s not as surprising as it might seem. It’s really special, and I didn’t appreciate it fully until now.

We can’t ignore the fact Jeter is in the middle of a down year, but does anybody else remember so much scrutiny over other recent fading stars and their victory laps? Craig Biggio hung around until he was 40 and had the worst year of his career. But he came up short, so he returned at 41, had an even more dreadful year before ringing the bell. Winfield was crumbling in the worst season of his career (up to that point) at 41 when he got the big hit. Cal Ripken enjoyed an outlier renaissance the year before his 3000th, but he was crap during and all around the milestone.

All I remember from any of these marches towards history was celebration and adulation. Jeter deserves the same – especially playing for a first place team.

So in that spirit, I tried to come up with a memory of one specific hit. With the help of baseball-reference, this could have been a week-long tumble into the inter-hole. But he’s at 2996 now, so time’s a-wasting.

I was away at college when Jeter became a Yankee. I had come back to the team in earnest in 1993 when they retired Reggie’s number. But I had left New York the following year, so when the Yankees approached the 1996 division crown, I was watching from afar. I knew Derek Jeter was a promising rookie and had hopes, like everybody else, that he’d stick around for a long time and prove to be a good player. But I had no sense of him yet.

College was down in Baltimore’s television market, and I tuned in when the Yanks squared off against the second-place Orioles on September 18th. The Orioles were three games back and this was the last chance they had to catch the Yankees for the division crown. The Orioles led 2-1 in the late innings. Derek Jeter led off the bottom of the eighth and I thought, I really want him to get a hit here, and he lined one to right. The Yanks did not score though.

Bernie tied it in the ninth. Mariano held the O’s scoreless and Derek Jeter led off again in the tenth. I thought, I really want him to get a hit here, but that’s not fair to this rookie. He already came through in the eighth and this is a lot of pressure and all. But Jeter got the hit and scored the run. The Yanks won the game, the division and the series. As the ball squirted between short and third and into left field, I remember it occurring to me, “Maybe the Yanks have found something special here. Maybe this is a guy who is going to come up big when they need it most.”

He didn’t always come through, of course, but he did often enough to make it feel safe to hope for it. Derek Jeter has never been my favorite player. But between Jeter and Mariano, they make the Yankees seem like one epic roster that has stretched from 1995 to today. They are the Yankees of my young adulthood. They bridged the end of my schoolboy playing career to start of my family.

Three thousand is a lot of hits. I am glad I saw so many of them.

[Photo Credit: USA Today]

Jeteronomy The Milestone: Take Two

Lasting Derek Jeter Memories: Hit #2,722


“When he enters a room, there is always a recording of Bob Sheppard announcing his presence …”

“The Oxford English Dictionary apologized to him for neglecting to include the word ‘Jeterian'”

“He has brought such honor to his uniform number, when little kids have to go to the bathroom, their mothers say ‘do you have to do a number 3?'”

“He is . . . the most interesting shortstop the Yankees have had since Tony Fernandez.”


“I don’t often drink . . . but when I do, I never drive my new 2011 Ford Edge with the cool Panoramic Vista roof immediately afterwards.”

* * *

Once upon a time, in the days before free agency, “franchise players” were plentiful.  Most of the upper echelon teams had at least one such player.  Even some of the sad sack teams had their icon.

Here’s a list of the “2,000 or more games in career, all for one team” retired players club

Player G From To Tm
Honus Wagner 2298 1901 1917 PIT
Lou Gehrig 2164 1923 1939 NYY
Charlie Gehringer 2323 1924 1942 DET
Mel Ott 2730 1926 1947 NYG
Luke Appling 2422 1930 1950 CHW
Ted Williams 2292 1939 1960 BOS
Stan Musial 3026 1941 1963 STL
Mickey Mantle 2401 1951 1968 NYY
Ernie Banks 2528 1953 1971 CHC
Al Kaline 2834 1953 1974 DET
Roberto Clemente 2433 1955 1972 PIT
Brooks Robinson 2896 1955 1977 BAL
Bill Mazeroski 2163 1956 1972 PIT
Carl Yastrzemski 3308 1961 1983 BOS
Willie Stargell 2360 1962 1982 PIT
Johnny Bench 2158 1967 1983 CIN
Bill Russell 2181 1969 1986 LAD
Dave Concepcion 2488 1970 1988 CIN
Mike Schmidt 2404 1972 1989 PHI
George Brett 2707 1973 1993 KCR
Frank White 2324 1973 1990 KCR
Robin Yount 2856 1974 1993 MIL
Jim Rice 2089 1974 1989 BOS
Lou Whitaker 2390 1977 1995 DET
Alan Trammell 2293 1977 1996 DET
Cal Ripken 3001 1981 2001 BAL
Tony Gwynn 2440 1982 2001 SDP
Barry Larkin 2180 1986 2004 CIN
Edgar Martinez 2055 1987 2004 SEA
Craig Biggio 2850 1988 2007 HOU
Jeff Bagwell 2150 1991 2005 HOU
Bernie Williams 2076 1991 2006 NYY

Nowadays, the Braves’ Chipper Jones and the Yankees captain are two of the few active “iconic” players in baseball, easily identified by their career-long associations with their respective teams.

With career-long associations with one franchise comes the inevitable march up the team leaderboard for many counting stats, and hits is probably the “showcase” number.  Here are the current franchise leaders for each team (excusing the Yankees for a moment):

Franchise Leader Total
Detroit Ty Cobb 3,902
St. Louis Stan Musial 3,630
Atlanta Hank Aaron 3,600
Boston Carl Yastrzemksi 3,419
Cincinnati Pete Rose 3,358
San Francisco Willie Mays 3,187
Baltimore Cal Ripken Jr. 3,184
Kansas City George Brett 3,154
Milwaukee Robin Yount 3,142
San Diego Tony Gwynn 3,141
Houston Craig Biggio 3,060
Pittsburgh Roberto Clemente 3,000
Minnesota Sam Rice 2,889
Los Angeles (NL) Zack Wheat 2,804
Chicago (AL) Luke Appling 2,749
Chicago (NL) Ernie Banks 2,583
Los Angeles (AL) Garrett Anderson 2,368
Colorado Todd Helton (active) 2,308
Seattle Edgar Martinez 2,247
Philadelphia Mike Schmidt 2,234
Cleveland Nap Lajoie 2,046
Texas Michael Young (active) 1,949
Oakland Bert Campaneris 1,882
Washington Tim Wallach 1,694
Toronto Tony Fernandez 1,583
Tampa Bay Carl Crawford 1,480
New York (NL) Ed Kranepool 1,418
Arizona Luis Gonzalez 1,337
Florida Luis Castillo 1,273

Given the Yankees history, its surprising to note that the Bombers have never had a 3,000 hit man.  Though Joltin’ Joe, The Mick and the Iron Horse all eclipsed 2,000 hits in a Yankee uni, Joe DiMaggio lost three prime years to the service and Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig saw their productivity diminished due to injury and illness respectively.

So when Derek Sanderson Jeter came upon the scene in 1995, no one could have foreseen that this polite, photogenic and disciplined shortstop would stand upon the precipice of Yankee history on the night of September 11, 2009.  Jeter’s inside-out, line drive to right-center machine of a swing had pumped out 2,721 hits to that point, knotting him with Gehrig.

Despite it being the eighth anniversary of the Taliban attacks that killed nearly 3,000 New Yorkers, and despite a rainshower that delayed the start of the game by nearly 90 minutes, there was electricity and anticipation in the new Stadium that night. A near-capacity crowd of 46,771 braved the elements to cheer on The Captain.

The Yanks faced Chris Tillman of the Orioles.  Tillman was making only his ninth career start in the Majors.  Leading off the bottom of the first, Jeter struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch, but Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer later in the inning, and the Yanks still led 3-1 when Jeter stepped to the plate leading off the third.

He took the first two pitches for balls, then in truly “Jeterian” form, rapped a single between Orioles’ first baseman Luke Scott and the foul line, with Nick Markakis tracking the ball down as it made its way towards the right field corner. Jeter rounded first, clapped his hands and returned to the base.  He shook first base coach Mick Kelleher’s hand, handed him his shin guard, and then, the Yankees filed out of the dugout amidst a thunderous two-minute standing ovation and chants of “Jeter! Jeter!” from the crowd. Jeter’s father could be seen high-fiving anyone and everyone he could up in one of the Yankee suites. In the opposing dugout, the Orioles clapped in appreciation of the achievement.

It was an odd sight, as the Yanks (and Orioles) were all wearing red caps for the memory of “9/11”, but the night belonged to Yankee navy blue and white. Jeter would end up two for four on the night, leaving the game after a second rain delay. The Yanks would end up losing the game 10-4, but with a nine game lead in the division heading into play and only 20 games remaining, the loss was rendered especially insignificant. Derek Jeter had broken the 72-year-old hits record of Lou Gehrig, and the “new” Yankee Stadium had its first truly memorable moment.

Calfination, the Cubs, and History

Derek Jeter’s calf injury and ensuing DL trip definitely threw a wrench into his reaching the 3,000-hit milestone in the near future. Given Jeter’s flair for the dramatic and the way the Yankees hit Rangers pitching during the first two games, it would have been fun to see what could have been, especially at home.

Jeter’s two most recent milestones occurred at home. he benefited from home scoring when got his 2,000th on May 26, 2006 against the Kansas City Royals, and he broke Lou Gehrig’s franchise record for hits at home on September 11, 2009 against the Orioles.

Another thing that would have been cool: watching Jeter vie for history against the Cubs. Jeter has the most hits of anyone in interleague play, so in a way, it would have been fitting for him to reach 3K over the next batch of games. In addition, Saturday will mark six years to the day that Jeter launched the first and only grand slam of his career to date, a sixth inning shot off of Joe Borowski.

And there is precedent for the Yankees making history during interleague play. A banner year for this was 2003, when first, the Yankees were no-hit by six Houston Astros pitchers in the Bronx. Two nights later, Roger Clemens registered his 4,000th strikeout and 300th win against the Cardinals.

Clemens’ previous start, however, took place in Chicago, against Kerry Wood. It was Clemens’ third chance at 300. It was the marquee game in a series that marked the Yankees’ first visit to Wrigley Field since the 1932 World Series and Babe Ruth’s “called shot”. The Yankees beat Carlos Zambrano in the Friday afternoon opener, and the stage was set for the power matchup on Saturday. Clemens had an upper respiratory infection and there was doubt as to whether he would even start. He did, and he left the game in the seventh inning with a lead and two men on base, giving way to the immortal Juan Acevedo. Acevedo is immortal for what happened next. He delivered a first-pitch fastball to Eric Karros that was promptly returned to Waveland Avenue, and a 2-1 lead was suddenly a 4-2 deficit. That was the final. The following night, the Cubs chased Andy Pettitte after 1 2/3 innings and despite a valiant comeback effort against Mark Prior, it wasn’t enough.

Fast forward to today, where the Yankees head to Chicago coming off a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers. They’re currently riding their sixth three-game win streak of the season. Only once, though, have they carried that streak past three. They’re not facing Big Z, Wood and Prior in succession; rather, it’s Doug Davis, Ryan Dempster, and Randy “Please don’t call me Boomer or Kip” Wells. With the Cubs struggling as badly as they are, this could be a weekend where the Yankees add to their winning percentage.

Sadly, no history to watch out for in this series. Only the moments to reflect upon. While the feeling of the games might be empty, at least the stands at Wrigley will be full.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver