When Jeter Hit Three Thousand

by Christopher Paul on February 17, 2014

Derek Jeter, the Joe DiMaggio of my generation announced that 2014 will be his last season. He’s only played for one team – the New York Yankees – and while he might have been some kid from Michigan (though born in New Jersey), he’s as new York as the Brooklyn Bridge. After reading about his retirement, a lot of publications reached back into their archives for articles written about his 3000th hit. This one by Roger Angell is one of my favorites.

Nothing went wrong on yesterday’s brilliant, blue-sky Saturday afternoon. Two hits shy of the tri-millennial mark, Jeter amped expectations with his first-inning single against the Tampa Bay lefty David Price. “Now!” said the forty-eight thousand one hundred and eight fans on hand—not counting the right-field bleacher chorus chanting “Der-ek Je-tuh! De-rek Je-tuh!”—when he stepped in again against Price in the third. The tough at-bat went to three and two, with two more full-count fouls, and Jeter looked almost awkward as he bent and swung at an inside curveball and got all of it, driving the ball into the second tier of seats in the left center-field bleachers. Jorge Posada was the first Yankee waiting at home plate when he arrived for hug-up, and Johnny Damon, his old teammate, now a Ray, was the first to come clapping out of the visitors’ dugout. Casey Kotchman, the Rays’ first baseman, had tipped his hat as Derek turned the bag.

And this one from Joe Lemire is a great one, too, if not for this tidbit about Dick Groch who recruited Jeter for the Yankees:

The longtime scout said that Jeter was the greatest player he ever scouted. The first time he laid eyes on the star from Kalamazoo Central High was at an all-star showcase in Michigan. Groch was standing next to a baseball coach from Michigan State, who marveled at Jeter’s athleticism and remarked that he needed to send the teenager an information packet, to which Groch quipped, “Save your postage.”

The Yankees made Jeter the No. 6 overall pick of the 1992 draft, and when he tried using his scholarship offer to Michigan as leverage in negotiations, a few front-office personnel grew concerned they might lose him, though Groch assured them otherwise.

“The only place Derek Jeter’s going is to Cooperstown,” Groch said.

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