The New York Yankees history is a book filled with great baseball players, like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and a host of other award-winning players.Â For Generation Z fans, Derek Jeter is the greatest of all Yankees.Â Much of the praise is deserved.Â A few days ago, I wrote a top 10 for the best Yankee games stretching back to 1923.Â With one of Derek Jeter’s games in that article, it got me to thinking about what the top 10 moments of Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame career would be.Â Below is my top 10, feel free to disagree in the comments.
10. Jeter’s Jeffery Maier Home Run
Under the category of taking it when you can get it, Jeter benefited from a young boy in the stands.Â It was the 1996 ALCS against the Orioles. That young boy was Jeffery Maier, surely he didn’t know it at the time, but his Derek Jeter catch or knock into the stands would go down in baseball history.Â Umpire Richie Garcia would call it a home run tying the game.Â The New York Yankees would go on to win the game 5-4 with a Bernie Williams walk-off homer.
9.Â Derek’s Opening Day 1996
Before opening day in 1996 owner, George M. Steinbrenner wasn’t sure Jeter should be the opening day shortstop.Â Afterall just a few months early he almost traded him to the Mariners.Â He only 21 and a scrawny kid that had had problems with his defense in spring training.Â So what did Jeter do, he made spectacular plays and got a homer in the win against Cleveland on opening day.Â The next day he would go 3-3 and stole bases.Â In those two games, Jeter turned heads in what would be a Hall of Fame career, all with the Yankees.
8. The 5 for 5 in Division opener
During 2006 in the Division Series against the Detroit Tigers, a series the Yankees would like to forget.Â The Tigers took the ALDS from the Yankees in four games.Â But in the only game, the Yankees won, game one, Derek Jeter went 5-5, including two doubles and a home run while scoring three runs. It would be one of only three games in his career where he would get 10 RBIs.
7. Jeter is All-Star and World Series MVP
In 2000 Jeter put his hame into the history books by becoming the only player in the history of the game to be both All-Star and World Series MVPs in the same season.Â That record still stands today.
6. Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit
Like so many great Yankee players, Jeter hit a lot of home runs, but he was also a hitting king.Â In a comeback year, Jeter was hitting .331, but his signature moment was when he hit his 3,000th hit.Â On July 9, 2011, he hit number 3,000 off Rays ace David Price.Â He wasn’t done in the same game. He had a total of five hits and went 5-5.Â Jeter always reached milestones with style increasing his mystique.
5. Jeter’s World Series leadoff homer
In the first subway World series since 1956, the Yankees would take game one in twelve innings. They would survive a comeback and take game two. Moving to the Queens in games 3 and 4, the Mets would win game 3.Â In game four, Manager Joes Torres moved Jeter from his familiar hitting spot, to lead off.Â Jeter launched a home run off Mets starter Bobby Jones into the left-field bleachers at Shea.Â The New York Yankees would win the game and ultimately the series with Jeter being named MVP.
4. Jeter becomes Mr. November
Years before, Reggie Jackson was nicknamed “Mr. October” for his clutch hitting in the postseason with the Dodgers and the Yankees. After hitting two home runs in the first five games of the World Series in 1977, Jackson hit three home runs in game six, and the Yankees would win their first World Series in fifteen years.Â
Derek Jeter was named Mister November with me in the stands during the ALCS of 2001.Â Jeter in the tenth inning of a tied game against the Diamondbacks came to the plate just as the clock struck midnight, marking the first time that Major League Baseball had been played in November.Â Byung-Hyun Kim was one the mound pitching. Jeter then hit Kim’s ninth pitch of the at-bat just over Yankee Stadium’s short rightfield wall for a game-winning and Series-tying home run. It was the first walk-off home run of Jeter’s career.Â From then on, Jeter was known as Mr. November.
3. Derek Jeter’s flip
Many call it the most fantastic play in baseball. It was the 2001 American League Division Series against the A’s, and the New York Yankees were facing elimination in Oakland in Game 3. Jorge Posada hit a solo home run off Zito in the top of the fifth, and the Yankees carried that 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh in what would be a pitching duel between Zito and the Yankees Mike Mussina.
With slow-footed Jason Giambi on third, Terrence Long doubled, and the third base coach signaled that Giambi should take off for home.Â Shane Spencer threw an off-line throw to cut of Giambi.Â Giambi’s attempt to reach home plate seemed a surety.Â The ball went just past the first baseline, but Jeter seemingly popped up out of nowhere to scoop up the ball and flip it to catcher Jorge Posada to catch Giambi by a split second and get the out that would seal the deal on the Yankee 1-0 win.
2. Derek Jeter flies into the stands
With no regard for his own safety, Derek Jeter flew into the New York Yankee Stadium fan’s arms.Â In the 12th inning of a tie game against the Red Sox, Trot Nixon popped up down the left-field line. Derek Jeter, in a dead sprint from his shortstop position, made an over the shoulder catch. He had so much momentum that he launched himself over the railing and ended up two rows deep. He emerged with a cut on his chin and blood running from his cheek.Â Team trainer Gene Monahan, manager Aaron Boone, and Alex Rodriguez helped Jeter off the field with his parents shocked in the stands. The Yankees went on to win the game in the bottom of the 13th inning on a John Flaherty single.
1. Derek Jeter’s walk-off goodbye to Yankee Stadium.
On the last day, Jeter faced dozens of reporters in the locker room.Â All they wanted was for Jeter to talk about his career, something he always hated to do, somehow he slipped away to a private area, but when he returned, the number of reporters had more than doubled.Â Jeter finally relented and said:
“The only thing I’ve ever wanted to talk about is winning,” Jeter said. “When there’s particular attention on you, as opposed to the team, it can be uncomfortable. But I understand it, and I appreciate it.”
Jeter took to the field for a pregame ceremony a few minutes before 7 p.m., and following that, a video was played on the center-field video board in which several fans — young and old — thanked Jeter for his years with the Yankees. At the end of the video, Jeter reciprocated, thanking the fans. When Jeter appeared on the board, the crowd roared with applause.
Nothing was more like Derek Jeter than his final game at Yankee Stadium.Â It was as if it was a perfectly choreographed game to show off Derek Jeter as the man of the moment he was throughout so much of his career.Â Setting the stage, it was Derek Jeter’s last game at New York Yankee Stadium; his parents were in the stands as they were in many important moments in their son’s career.Â The game was tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles.
What Jeter and his fans didn’t know was that Jeter’s memorable moments weren’t finished; it was about to get emotional and magical.Â Richardson was on first base; Brett Gardner hit a sac fly to center advancing Richardson to second. The game was tied at 5. In his last at-bat in a game that would probably go into extra innings, Jeter stepped to the plate. The eternally patrician Bob Sheppard over the public address announced “number two, Derek Jeter, number two.” The crowd is cheering Der-Ek-Jet-er, Der-Ek-Jet-er. Jeter would go after the first pitch he saw and smack a walk-off single and win for the Yankees in his very last game at Yankee Stadium.Â Jeter, who seldom showed emotion, realized he had won the game with a massive smile across his face and raised arms, as his teammates swamped him.
It’s moments like this. The Yankees make tears stream down my face.Â It happened when I learned Thurmon had died when George obviously ill, handed out the ball at the All-Star Game when Bobby died when Yogi died when Mariano lost it on the mound when Derek and Andy took the ball from him that one last time, and when Derek said goodby with a walk-off win. I can’t help it; I love my Yankees.
After the game Manager, Joe Torres would sum up Jeter’s career perfectly. “What he represents, we don’t have enough of in sports; I’m not just talking about his ability to play baseball, but also what he represents as a man. Sports will cry out for more people as respectful as Derek Jeter.”