NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — More than sheer numbers, Derek Jeter’s career has been defined by memorable moments. He always seemed to be in the middle of something significant.
So as we prepare for what will be his 20th and final season, it’s time to look back on the plays and moments that helped define what will eventually be a Hall of Fame career.
THE FLIP: The Yankees were facing a three-game sweep in the 2001 AL playoffs, but led 1-0 in Game 3 at Oakland. With a runner on first and two outs in the seventh inning, Terrence Long hit a line drive into the corner. Right fielder Shane Spencer’s throw missed the cutoff men and wouldn’t have made it home in time to keep Jeremy Giambi from scoring the tying run. But out of nowhere, Jeter swooped in, scooped up the errant throw along the first-base and made a backhand flip it to catcher Jorge Posada, who tagged out Giambi. Who’d ever seen such a play? The Yanks went on to win the game, and the series.
JUST SO JETER: His road to 3,000 hits bogged down in the summer of 2011, and his batting average slumped as he pressed to reach the milestone at Yankee Stadium. Then, only a couple days before the team left for a lengthy road trip, he struck. Jeter homered against Rays ace David Price, becoming just the second player to go deep for No. 3,000. Jeter finished with a flair that afternoon, going 5 for 5.
INTO THE STANDS: It was just a regular-season game, but is it ever just a regular-season game when it’s Yankees-Red Sox? In July 2004, they were tied in the 12th inning when Boston put runners on second and third with two outs. Trot Nixon blooped a ball down the left-field line, well behind third base. Jeter ranged fast and far to reach out and make the catch in fair territory, but was going too hard to stop. Rather than risk being undercut by a short wall, Jeter made a dangerous, headfirst dive into the stands, momentarily disappearing among the New York fans. He came out a little dazed, with a bloody chin — but held on to the ball. The Yankees won in the 13th.
MR. NOVEMBER: The World Series went beyond October for the first time in 2001 because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that put the season on hold for about a week. Game 4 of that matchup between New York and the Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium started on Halloween night, but went to extra innings. After the clock struck midnight and the calendar flipped, Jeter hit an opposite-field home run off Byung-Hyun Kim to tie the series at 2 and become baseball’s first Mr. November.
MO GOES: Mariano Rivera’s last game at Yankee Stadium came last Sept. 26. With two outs in the ninth inning of what turned out to be a 4-0 loss to the Rays, Jeter and longtime teammate Andy Pettitte emerged from the dugout and strolled to the mound. It was a touching gesture, a symbolic pitching change designed to take Rivera out of the game and let him have one last long and loud send-off from Yankees fan. “It’s time to go,” Jeter told Rivera.
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