Some people were born to be great, to be legends, and Derek Jeter is one of those people. Throughout his entire career, number 2 put the New York Yankees on his back, starring in some of the most iconic moments in MLB history.
Jeter always played with a combination of poise and elegance you don't always find in the diamond. He was a leader on and off the field, and his career was so legendary, that he even ended it with a walk-off hit.
And now, in the wake of his Hall of Fame enshrinement and ten years after his legendary 3,000th hit, current and former teammates opened up on that movie-like moment vs. the Tampa Bay Rays.
Teammates And Rivals Recall Derek Jeter's Iconic 3,000th Hit
(Transcript via the New York Post)
“My perspective is a little different because I knew Derek when he was 16. We met at the University of Miami-Michigan [baseball] game. So to see the entire arc, it’s really appreciating it at a level that I think most can’t appreciate it.
When I saw that home run, it’s so classic: The home run at home. The big fan [of Jeter] catches it. It was so symbolic for so many reasons. Not just the championships, but Dr. Jeter and Mrs. Jeter, the way they raised him. It was a special moment, more so than just the day. The respect [Jeter had], revered in the clubhouse and everyone in the organization. Great moment. I enjoyed it.”
“It’s one of those moments, you kind of know it’s going to happen and you don’t really know what it’s going to be like, what that moment or that experience is going to be like. [I felt] excitement for him. And knowing how much work goes into him being able to have the career that he had, putting up the numbers that he put up and obviously there were only a select few that have played this game that have accomplished that, 3,000.
Everybody on the team, I just remember being excited for Jete. And I also think it’s one of those things, I’ve never necessarily approached a milestone like that, but I’ve got to think it must be nice to get it out of the way and then move forward. What a special moment. I’ve had a lot of those that I’ve gotten to witness and be a part of over the last 13, 14 years and that definitely is right up there near the top.”
“At first base, I’m thinking, ‘If he hits a single or something, I’ll go ahead and shake his hand, say congrats and get out of the way, let him do his thing with his teammates'. He hits a ball in the seats. I thought, ‘All right, I’ll tip my cap, salute him.’ By the time he hits the ball and he’s taking the turn, you’ve got three seconds, four seconds. That was pretty cool. I went ahead and tipped my cap.
It’s pretty cool. He’s had a whole list of [highlights]. It doesn’t shock anybody that’s how that one went.”
The Rays pitcher served up Jeter’s third-inning homer to left field and, knowing it was gone, knelt quickly on the mound before springing up, a picture of frustration and energy.
“It was the only time in my life that I have ever done that. I can still see it. I can still my reaction. I can see [Rays catcher John] Jaso behind home plate. I can still see it very vividly.”
"The [second] game of our series got rained out. That was Jeremy Hellickson’s day. He was supposed to pitch, I’m pretty sure. Then I remember [Rays pitching coach Jim] Hickey coming in and he was like, ‘Hey, you’re still pitching tomorrow,’ and Hellickson was next to me and he was like, ‘Yes!’ I was like, oh my gosh. I just know what’s going to happen.
(...) He was one of my favorite players growing up. At the time, if any player in baseball was going to hit their 3,000th hit and do it off of me, I would’ve wanted it to be Derek Jeter.”
Jeter will always be one of the most respected and beloved characters not only around Major League Baseball but in all major sports. Finally, he'll stay forever where he belongs since day one: in the Hall of Fame.
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