In honor of Derek Jeter week in the world of the New York Yankees, ESNY is reliving all the fabulous moments of his incredible career.
Not only was he a legend in the eyes of the Bronx, he served as a role model throughout all of baseball. Many a fan grew up watching him dedicate his life to the most storied franchise in the history of sports.
Jeter toiled his way through the system and got his first Opening Day start in 1996 against the Cleveland Indians. His first real taste of a starting position got even sweeter in the fifth inning.
The young shortstop took Dennis Martinez deep in the top of the fifth, notching his first career home run. Known as a primarily opposite field hitter, he crushed Martinez’s pitch over the left field wall.
That home run marked the beginning of an era in the Bronx. It wasn’t just an era for Jeter but a new dynasty. Joe Torre just began his managerial reign and the Yankees had a stud shortstop leading the way.
Who knew that such a storied career would emerge from an Opening Day home run. George Steinbrenner certainly didn’t think so. However, Torre insisted on Jeter making the start.
The young, skinny shortstop would start the season with a bang and end it by taking home the American League Rookie of the Year award. Not a bad way to get started.
He even handled the moment like a champ. Jeter rounded the bases and exhibited the calm, collective demeanor we all know so well.
No theatrics, no outward emotion. Derek Jeter entered the game looking like a true veteran and continued that impressive attitude throughout his career.
This home run was only the beginning. There are far more Jeter moments to look forward to as we approach Derek Jeter week.