Recounting the moments that defined Derek Jeter
NEW YORK (AP) — It is July 19, 2003. Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium.
Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees are four games ahead in the American League East, headed to their sixth of nine consecutive division titles.
At this moment, though, they trail the Cleveland Indians by one run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jeter has just hit an RBI single with two outs, and the bases are loaded for left-handed slugger Jason Giambi.
The infielders play Giambi to pull. The count goes full and Cleveland ace CC Sabathia prefers to stay in the windup, giving all three Yankees on base a running start for a slow delivery to the plate.
Jeter takes off in an all-out sprint from first as Sabathia rocks and fires.
Alfonso Soriano is on second, and Jeter playfully tells his teammate he’s going to catch him. He returns to the bag and bolts again, full speed, with the next pitch.
Jeter has one thing in mind, and he says to first base coach Lee Mazzilli: “I’m going to score on a single.”
Lo and behold, Giambi hits a bouncer up the middle. A hustling Jeter is just about rounding second by the time bat meets ball and he scores easily with a feet-first slide for a 6-4 lead.
It’s a rare three-run single for Giambi, and New York goes on to a 7-4 victory.
More than a decade later, Giambi is asked if he recalls the play. He does not. Neither does former catcher John Flaherty, the runner on third that day and now a Yankees broadcaster.
Jeter remembers right away.
“Yup — Giambi. CC was pitching,” he said last week. “I remember that because he fouled off a couple of pitches. I told the first base coach, I’m going to score on a single.”
And why did he enjoy that savvy bit of baserunning so much?
“All the little things,” Jeter said.
Instincts. Anticipation. Effort.
For a Hall of Fame-bound star who authored so many of the most famous moments in recent Major League Baseball history, who shined so bright under an October spotlight, Derek Jeter also was defined by his everyday excellence throughout the summer.
His steady hands at shortstop. The feisty at-bat to spark a rally with an opposite-field single. The multimillion dollar icon who wouldn’t hesitate to bunt.
And then, of course, there were the highlights nobody will forget:
Oct. 9, 1996
A HELPING HAND
After hitting a home run in Cleveland on his first opening day en route to rookie of the year honors, Jeter quickly takes center stage in the postseason. In the AL Championship Series opener against Baltimore, he hits an eighth-inning drive to right field at Yankee Stadium. A young fan reaches out and gets his glove on the ball, pulling it over the fence for a tying homer that turns 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier into an instant celebrity. The Orioles are livid, but umpire Rich Garcia does not rule fan interference — this was long before instant replay. New York goes on to win the game and eventually its first World Series title in 18 years.
Oct. 25, 2000
SUBWAY SERIES SURPRISE
In the first Subway Series since 1956, the New York Mets win Game 3 at Shea Stadium to pull to 2-1 and halt the Yankees’ record 14-game winning streak in World Series play. Yankees manager Joe Torre moves Jeter up to the leadoff spot for Game 4, and Jeter stuns everyone with a home run on the first pitch of the night from Bobby Jones. The Yankees go on to win their third consecutive championship and fourth in five years. Jeter is selected World Series MVP to go with his All-Star MVP award earlier that season.
Oct. 13, 2001
With the Yankees facing playoff elimination in Oakland and clinging to a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning, Terrence Long doubles into the right-field corner with two outs and a runner on first. New York right fielder Shane Spencer overthrows two cutoff men, but Jeter dashes from the middle of the diamond to grab the ball on a hop along the first-base line. He quickly shovels a backhand flip to catcher Jorge Posada in time to tag out Jeremy Giambi, who does not slide at the plate. While most everyone is amazed by Jeter’s heads-up play, he says he was simply where he was supposed to be. The Yankees rally to win the series and roll to their fourth straight pennant.
Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2001
After the 9-11 attacks push the World Series beyond October for the first time, New York pulls off a pair of incredible comebacks against Arizona on consecutive nights at Yankee Stadium. Jeter finishes the first one with a game-ending homer off Byung-Hyun Kim in the 10th inning, just after midnight on Halloween — earning him the nickname “Mr. November.”
July 1, 2004
The score is tied in the top of the 12th inning at Yankee Stadium when Jeter runs down Trot Nixon’s popup near the left-field line to save two runs. With no way to stop his momentum in time, he dives headlong over a low retaining wall and crashes into the stands. Jeter emerges with the ball, his face badly bruised and bloodied, before heading to a hospital for X-rays. New York rallies in the 13th to complete a three-game sweep of rival Boston, and Jeter is back at shortstop the next night. The courageous play comes just more than a year after Jeter is appointed the 11th captain in Yankees history.
Sept. 21, 2008
Admittedly nervous about public speaking when he was young, Jeter takes a microphone and closes The House That Ruth Built with a farewell speech following the final game at the original Yankee Stadium. Surrounded by teammates, he tells the 54,610 fans on hand, “Every member of this organization, past and present, has been calling this place home for 85 years. There’s a lot of tradition, a lot of history, and a lot of memories. ... We’re relying on you to take the memories from this stadium, add them to the new memories that come at the new Yankee Stadium and continue to pass them on from generation to generation.” Playing in their new ballpark the next year, the Yankees win their 27th championship, giving Jeter five World Series rings.
July 9, 2011
Less than two years after breaking Lou Gehrig’s franchise record for hits, Jeter is feeling pressure to get No. 3,000 before the end of New York’s homestand. Always with a flair for the dramatic, he reaches the milestone with a home run off Tampa Bay ace David Price, joining Wade Boggs as the only players to homer for their 3,000th hit. Jeter finishes 5 for 5 in the Yankees’ victory with a go-ahead single in the eighth inning.