In celebration of Derek Jeter’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction, let’s take a look at his 10 greatest moments with the New York Yankees.
The former team captain and legendary shortstop will be enshrined in Cooperstown in July, finally putting a cap on a 20-year playing career. A career Yankee, Jeter ranks sixth in MLB history with 3,465 hits and leads all players in playoff games played, hits, and runs scored. His lifetime batting average was a precise .310.
Throw in 14 All-Star selections and five World Series rings, and Derek Jeter definitely ranks among baseball’s all-time greats. Not the greatest of all time, mind you, but easily one of the greatest to play the game.
Thus, as we celebrate Jeter’s new Hall of Fame status, let’s take a look at the ten best moments from his great career.
No. 10: Jeter ties Game 5, Oct. 26, 2000
One thing that still can’t be measured, even in this age of analytics, is how naturally clutch an individual player can be. In Jeter’s case, the man defined clutch, as we’ll discuss further later.
This particular moment sticks out from the 2000 World Series. The Yankees had a 3-1 series lead over the New York Mets headed into Game 5 at Shea Stadium. The lead was comfortable, but the Yankees and their fans are prideful. Losing to the Mets under any circumstances is highly frowned upon, especially in the World Series.
The Mets held a 2-1 lead headed into the sixth inning, with starter Al Leiter doing a good job of keeping the Bronx Bombers’ bats at bay. Jeter stepped up to the plate with one out and, on a 2-0 pitch, clubbed a hanging slider for a solo shot to left field. The Yankees added two runs in the ninth and clinched the Subway Series soon after.
Jeter, meanwhile, hit .409 in the Fall Classic with a pair of home runs and was named World Series MVP. However, this taste of World Series heroics is just the tip of the iceberg.
No. 9: Mr. November arrives, Oct. 31, 2001
The 2001 World Series meant a lot to New Yorkers. The city was reeling from the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks, so the Yankees making their fourth consecutive World Series was something of a moral victory.
Thus, as Game 4 against the Arizona Diamondbacks kicked off on Halloween night, the Yankees were in a dogfight. Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez did all he could to match Arizona’s Curt Schilling, but a tired Yankee bullpen faltered and the Diamondbacks led 3-1 in the ninth. Thankfully, Tino Martinez tied the game with a two-run shot.
That turned the page to extra innings and Derek Jeter came to bat with two outs in the tenth and the score tied. As the clock struck midnight, the calendar turned to November and made baseball history.
So too did Jeter as he hit one of his signature opposite-field homers off of Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim. The series was tied, all thanks to the Yankee captain.
Arizona won the series in seven games, and Jeter only hit .148 in it. Still, his clutch nine-pitch at-bat kept New York’s momentum up when the city needed it most.
No. 8: First hit in Seattle, May 30, 1995
The Yankees were underdogs for much of the abbreviated post-strike 1995 season, so key players got banged up early. This led to a 20-year-old Derek Jeter making his major league debut against the Seattle Mariners.
Jeter was hitless in his first game but proved fortunate the next day. In the fifth inning, he grounded a single to left off of Tim Belcher and notched another hit later in the game.
Three-thousand-four-hundred-and-sixty-four hits later, and the rest is history.
No. 7: The Captain passes a Captain, Sept. 11, 2009
It’s quite the honor being named captain of the Yankees. There have only been 15 in team history, including Jeter.
History became all the more significant on a damp September evening in 2009. Playing against the Baltimore Orioles, Jeter lined a single to right field off of Chris Tillman. It was his 2,722nd career hit and put him ahead of former captain Lou Gehrig for the most hits in Yankee history.
This ensured that no matter when he retired, he would be the team’s all-time hit leader. Moreover, he is the only Yankee to ever reach 3,000 hits.
No. 6: The lone grand slam, June 18, 2005
Derek Jeter was a great hitter in all circumstances, especially with the bases loaded. He hit .321 for his career with the bases juiced and also had 225 RBI.
However, for all of his strengths with the bases loaded, Jeter only hit one grand slam for his entire career. It came when the Chicago Cubs came for a rare visit to the Bronx. With former teammate Joe Borowski on the mound, Jeter launched a shot to left-center for his first and only grand slam.
It was a small moment in Jeter’s storied career, but one significant enough that you’d miss it if you blinked.
No. 5: Jeter’s first homer, April 2, 1996
Jeter was not known for his power; he only hit 260 home runs for his career.
Just the same, his first-ever home run was one to remember. The Yankees played their first game of the 1996 season against the defending AL champion Cleveland Indians. Jeter came to bat in the fifth inning against 41-year-old Dennis Martinez and let his bat do the talking. The 21-year-old rookie smashed a solo shot to left field in what wound up a 7-1 win.
Home runs never defined the man, but Jeter’s ability to do it all at the plate set the tone for the rest of his career.
No. 4: The Dive, July 1, 2004
Every Yankees fan remembers this game and where they were when they watched it. In the case of yours truly, it was at a Pizzeria Uno with my buddy Andrew after we took in Spider-Man 2.
Whilst punching on our Applebee’s-quality pizza despite being New Yorkers, we discussed the movie while watching the game on the restaurant’s TV. Of course, it was against the hated Boston Red Sox. In the 12th inning, Jeter did his own Peter Parker impression while going after a foul pop fly.
Jeter dove into the stands and made the catch, but at a cost. He split his chin open and bruised his face quite badly, and was ultimately taken out of the game.
However, it proved to be a rallying cry for New York. The Yankees rallied for the walk-off win in the 13th inning.
And, ever the trooper, Jeter played the very next night.
No. 3: The Flip, Oct. 13, 2001
Anyone who remembers the Yankees’ playoff series against the Oakland Athletics remembers the intensity. Oakland’s analytical approach matched up against New York’s pomp and circumstance was baseball chess, brains battling brawn.
Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS, however, had Yankees fans hyperventilating. New York trailed Oakland 2-0 in the series and faced two must-win games on the road. The Yankees held a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning when Terrence Long laced a hit down the right-field line. Knowing Oakland Coliseum, this was good for extra bases.
Or was it bound for extras? Jeremy Giambi rounded third base as right fielder Shane Spencer’s throw missed the cutoff man. Thankfully, Derek Jeter was there to quickly field the ball and literally flip it to catcher Jorge Posada.
Giambi forgot to slide, was tagged out at the plate, and the Yankees won the next three games. Had Jeter not been there in time to flip the ball to Posada, the outcome could have been quite different.
No. 2: Jeets reaches 3,000, July 9, 2011
Twenty-eleven was a strange year for Jeter. The offseason had been defined by testy negotiations in free agency. Though Jeter re-signed with New York, a lot of hurt feelings lingered. It also didn’t help that Jeter got off to a slow start and then missed a month with a calf injury.
In the meantime, he was also closing in on his 3,000th career hit.
It took a while, but the Jeter of old finally woke up. His solo shot off of David Price in the third inning tied the game and was the second of his five hits on the game. Jeter also joined former teammate Wade Boggs as just the second player to hit a home run for their 3,000th hit.
The best part is Jeter ran hot for the rest of the season and finished with a .297 batting average, not bad for a 37-year-old.
No. 1: A legend says goodbye, Sept. 15, 2014
I don’t care what team you root for. If Derek Jeter’s final at-bat at Yankee Stadium doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, then you just plain don’t have a soul.
I can’t help you. There is nothing for you here. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
This moment was, as YES Network broadcaster Michael Kay said of Jeter’s 3,000th hit, history with an exclamation point. The Yankee captain came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied 5-5 against the Baltimore Orioles. It was quite a role reversal, as Baltimore won the AL East that season while the Yankees missed the playoffs.
But Jeter had one last piece of magic left in him before he retired. The speedy Antoan Richardson took his lead off second base, and Jeter dug in against Evan Meek. A meatball over the plate later, and Jeter executed his signature inside-out swing one more time. The ball snuck through the right side of the infield as Richardson rounded third.
Nick Markakis’ throw was just late as the Yankees rushed their captain on the field. The fans’ roars were deafening. Jeter then hugged some current and former teammates before taking one last lap around the infield as Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” blasted.
There was not a dry eye in the house. A key chapter of baseball history was closed. Derek Jeter took his final bow at home in an absolutely perfect goodbye.
As far as Hall of Fame careers go, it was the only way it could have ended. And it was 100% on Jeter’s terms.