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Jeter Makes 3000!

July 10th, 2011

photo credit: Robert Sabo/News

Jeter Makes 3,000!

July 9, 2011 — New York Yankees shortstop and team captain Derek Jeter blasted a 3rd inning homerun off Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price for his 3,000th career hit Saturday. The rare homerun for Jeter, his first at Yankee stadium in over a year, was the second of his five hits for the day, including a single to drive in the winning run in the 8th inning.  Over 17,000 men have played professional baseball and Jeter is only the 28th to get at least 3,000 hits. He’s also the fourth youngest player to join this elite club at the age of 37.

To watch Jeter hit number 3000, click here.

Even with all of the Yankees Hall of Famers that preceded Jeter, no other player has reached 3,000 in the famous pinstriped uniform. Babe Ruth (2,518hits), Lou Gehrig (2,721), and Mickey Mantle (2,415) all fell short.

He’s also only the fourth shortstop to reach 3,000 because playing that position is physically demanding and takes its toll on a body after years of playing. Even Jeter’s pursuit of 3,000 was delayed this season because he missed 18 straight games because of an injury. The other three shortstops in the “3K” Club (Honus Wagner, Robin Yount, and Cal Ripken) played many of their games at other positions.

Besides staying healthy, reaching 3,000 requires great consistency over many years. In his storied 16-year career—in which he’s helped the Yankees reach the playoffs all but one year—Jeter has averaged 196 hits in each full season while averaging 152 games played. (*There are 162 in a full season.) Jeter’s career batting average (.312) is 13th best in the 3,000 hit club.

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy…

While Jeter’s physical skills have helped earn him this accomplishment, his success can also be traced to his outstanding attitude. For those fans who notice how the game is played as well as the results, Jeter is one of the most respected All-Stars of the past 20 years. Both fellow teammates and opponents hold him in high regard. As former member of the rival Boston Red Sox Dave Roberts told ESPN The Magazine in 2005:

“Derek Jeter sets the bar for everyone who puts on a uniform. He does whatever it takes to win, moving a runner over, taking an extra base, whatever,”Roberts said. “He’s the consummate professional. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. And he does it every day. That’s why he is the captain of the Yankees. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate the Yankees, you have to respect Derek Jeter.”

Such high praise may not sit well with some Red Sox fans, but it is a familiar character reference for Yankees fans. Ever since Jeter, the New Jersey-born child of a mixed race marriage, broke into the major leagues in 1995, he has played outstanding baseball while displaying great humility and tact, respect for opponents, and good grace in defeat—all key characteristics of great sportsmanship. For these career attributes, among others, Sports Illustrated named Jeter their 2009 Sportsman of the Year.

Lukas Haynes usually specializes in World and Politics stories for HTE, but he’s also a lifelong baseball fan. He co-authored this piece with HTE founder’s husband, Josh Heitler. They’re former teammates and last wrote together about baseball in the October 1998 pages of The New York Times .

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