Thursday, June 05, 2008

Derek Jeter, Yankee Immortal

In an era of free agency, where milestones are achieved over the course of a career that spans several teams and cities, it’s always remarkable to see athletes approach immortality while playing for one team. At this point, it’s just so uncommon that it heightens the experience, at least in my opinion.

I’ve made it no secret that Derek Jeter, for all the great things he represents – hard work, selflessness, teamwork, reliability – isn’t my favorite Yankee. He’s a bit too perfect and a bit too standoffish and private to really embrace. Nevertheless, he’s going to go down as one of the greatest Yankees of all time. Last night, Jeter passed Mickey Mantle for third all time on the team’s career hits list. Jeter is now only 102 hits behind Babe Ruth and 305 hits behind the team’s all time leader, Lou Gehrig. The goal of 3,000 hits is now only 584 hits away and Jeter will be the first Yankee to ever hit that magic number*.

Anytime a player starts to pass names like Mantle, Ruth, and Gehrig, whether you love them or not, you have to tip your hat and congratulate them for a stellar career.

*Unless you count Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, and Wade Boggs, all of whom had Hall of Fame credentials with other teams besides New York and never got the magic 3,000 in Pinstripes.

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