New York Yankees: Today, Derek Jeter entered the Baseball Hall of Fame

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter

It’s September 8, 2021, the day that New York Yankees‘ shortstop Derek Jeter was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame albeit delayed by the coronavirus.  After an illustrious 20 years with the Yankees and hundreds of accolades throughout his career, but the ultimate reward for an exceptional career is induction into the Hall of fame, today he joined that esteemed community.

Between 1:30 and 2 pm, all of the present Hall of Famers were introduced, followed by this year’s inductees: Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons, Larry Walker, and finally Derek Jeter to the roar of the crowd and the chant of Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter. That was followed by a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem led by Bernie Williams on guitar. Next, Joe Torre introduced a video produced to honor 10 fallen members of the Hall since the 2019 induction.

After the other inductees were introduced and made their speeches, a video was played on the remarkable career of Derek Jeter. Then Jeter was asked to receive his Hall of Fame Plaque. Baseball Commissioner Bob Manfred read the inscription on his plaque.

At 3:48 in Cooperstown, New York, Derek Jeter stepped to the podium. In typical Jeter style, he would rather talk about his fellow inductees and those that came before him rather than his own accomplishments. First, he congratulated his fellow inductees, the Hall of Fame staff, and the writer’s “all but one of them,” Jeter quipped. Next, he spoke of playing 20 years with the only team he ever wanted to play for, the New York Yankees. Next, he talked about the importance of family and his dad in his career. Finally, he spoke and thanked all those members of his family who made him who he was and is today.

He spoke of Dick Groch, who first saw Jeter play, he was the scout that said this man will see Cooperstown. He read of many names that he should thank players, coaches to the front office for their help in his development. He thanked Joe Torre and Joe Girardi for their trust in him. He thanks a host of players. He thanked the “Boss” Goerge Steinbrenner and the entire Steinbrenner family. Next, he thanked the New York Yankee fans. He said he lived a dream and is still living it. Finally, he thanked his wife and children and how much he loved them.

He concluded by saying that this is a game of failure to today’s players; he asked that those players respect the game as he has. Not once in his speech did he speak of any individual accomplishment that got him to the Hall of Fame; how fitting!

There is no better time to look back at Derek Jeters’ most memorable moments with the New York Yankees with Jeter’s induction. Although these moments may be biased as a lifelong Yankee fan, they are my 10 most memorable moments of his career.

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.  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.  Umpire Richie Garcia would call it a home run tying the game.  The New York Yankees would win the game 5-4 with a Bernie Williams walk-off homer.

9.  Derek’s Opening Day 1996

Before opening day in 1996 owner, George M. Steinbrenner wasn’t sure Jeter should be the opening day shortstop.  After all, just a few months early, he almost traded him to the Mariners.  He was only 21 and a scrawny kid that had had problems with his defense in spring training.  So what did Jeter do? He made spectacular plays and got a homer in the win against Cleveland on opening day.  The next day he would go 3-3 and stole bases.  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 the Division opener

During 2006 in the Division Series against the Detroit Tigers, a series the Yankees would like to forget.  The Tigers took the ALDS from the Yankees in four games.  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 game’s history to be both All-Star and World Series MVP in the same season.  That record still stands today.

6. Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit

Like so many great Yankee players, Jeter hit many home runs, but he was also a hitting king.  In a comeback year, Jeter was hitting .331, but his signature moment was when he hit his 3,000th hit.  On July 9, 2011, he hit number 3,000 off Rays’ ace David Price.  He wasn’t done in the same game. He had a total of five hits and went 5-5.  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.  In game four, Manager Joe Torres moved Jeter from his familiar hitting spot to lead off.  Jeter launched a home run off Mets starter Bobby Jones into the left-field bleachers at Shea.  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. 

Derek Jeter was named Mister November with me in the stands during the ALCS of 2001.  In the tenth inning of a tied game against the Diamondbacks, Jeter came to the plate just as the clock struck midnight, marking the first time Major League Baseball had been played in November.  Byung-Hyun Kim was on 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.  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.  Shane Spencer threw an off-line throw to cut of Giambi.  Giambi’s attempt to reach home plate seemed a surety. Instead, 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

Derek Jeter flew into the New York Yankee Stadium fan’s arms with no regard for his own safety.  Trot Nixon popped up down the left-field line in the 12th inning of a tied game against the Red Sox. 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.  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.  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. So 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. Then, when Jeter appeared on the board, the crowd roared with applause.

Nothing was more like Derek Jeter than his final game at Yankee Stadium.  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.  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.  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.  Richardson was on first base; Brett Gardner hit a sac fly to center advancing Richardson to second. The game was tied at 5. Then, 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 was 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.  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.  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.”

Several years later, Jeter’s love of baseball would allow him to be a part-owner and operations manager of the Miami Marlins. He stays today, but now as a National Baseball Hall of Famer.

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