In the last twenty years, baseball has seen one man play shortstop for the New York Yankees. For twenty years, we have heard the same voice of legendary PA Announcer Bob Shepard introduce the man with the words “Now batting for the Yankees number two, Derek Jeter, number two.” And in seven short months, we will no longer be seeing him taking his position, or hear those famous words when he comes up for an at-bat.
With his announcement on Facebook last week, Derek Jeter has decided to retire following the 2014 season.
The news came a few short months after baseball fans said farewell to arguably the greatest closer of all-time and long time teammate of Jeters, Mariano Rivera. They also had to say goodbye to another cornerstone to their recent success, starting pitcher Andy Pettitte.
Jeter’s illustrious career can’t be highlighted by one or two moments. It’s highlighted by many moments starting on opening day in 1996 when he hit his first career home run on his first opening day. Since then, he has been rookie of the year, a thirteen time all-star (winning All Star Game MVP in 2000), five time silver slugger, five time gold glove winner, five time World Series champion (winning World Series MVP in 2000), named the fourteenth captain in Yankees history in 2003.
The yankees have been known for having many hitting greats including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Don Mattingly. Jeter has done something none of those hall of famers have done: have 3,000 career hits. Jeter is one of only thirteen players to have 3,000 hits with one club, the first since Craig Biggio did so for the Houston Astros in 2007.
Much of the success the Yankees have had in the last twenty years have been partially due to Jeter. The team has only missed the playoffs twice in his career (2008, 2013). His postseason numbers are worth taking a second glance at as well.
With his retirement news hitting the sports world last week, I hold Jeter as one of the two faces in baseball left from the playing days in the ninety’s. The other being suspended teammate Alex Rodriguez.
Jeter has been the face of the Yankees and did it all the right way. His stats speak for themselves in his case for first ballot hall of fame. However, his character and off the field actions were never questioned unlike A-Rod. He went about his job professionally and expressed his desire to win a championship more than anybody else. That alone separates him from the pack, and puts him in discussion with baseball greatest players.
It’s easy to see that Jeter has done a lot for baseball and the Yankees. The legend will be missed. Let’s just enjoy one more year with Mr. November before we switch over to a new generation of players highlighted by names such as Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Buster Posey, Craig Kimbrel, and Matt Harvey.
Oh yeah, and soak in the farewell tour and hope it’s similar to Chipper Jones and Rivera’s.
Arthur’s Pick ’em:
(1) Syracuse 76 @ (5) Duke 81
(13) Louisville 78 @ (7)Cincinnati 73
Miami Heat 108 @ Oklahoma City Thunder 110
Houston Rockets 103 @ LA Clippers 106