In 1996 Derek Jeter was named the shortstop of the Yankees out of spring training. He rewarded the team’s faith in him by homering in his first game that year and hitting .314 on the season. Ten divisional titles, six pennants and four championships later, Jeter is still at short and hitting over .300. And probably sometime this week, Derek Jeter will pass Lou Gehrig and become the Yankees’ leader in career hits.
It’s an impressive accomplishment considering the history of the team and the caliber of players who have worn the pinstripes, but in typical fashion, Jeter isn’t that concerned about it. When asked passing Gehrig, Jeter said, “When you are playing, you don’t get a chance to reflect on your place in history.”
That doesn’t mean we can’t reflect on it. For fourteen seasons Jeter has been an exemplary player on the field and off of it. Yes, you can knock his defense, but when you consider what he does with his bat, Jeter is going to be remembered as one of the greatest shortstops to play the game.
Who knows how many more years Jeter will play? His contract runs through 2010 and the Yankees will certainly bring him back, but time will eventually run out for Derek just like it does for every athlete. So take a minute and appreciate #2, a legend in our own backyard.