By Father Gabe Costa
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A little over a week ago, Derek Jeter let it be known that 2014 would be his last year, thus ending an era. After he leaves, there will be nothing left of the Core Four now that Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada no longer don the pinstripes. His No. 2 will undoubtedly be retired by his beloved Yankees, and it is virtually impossible to conceive that he will not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
The captain will leave the Yankees with the satisfaction of having played in more games, having batted more times and having more hits than any other star who ever played for baseball’s most storied franchise. He will have won at least five World Series rings, and could realistically wind up in sixth place on the all-time hit list, trailing only guys who are named Rose, Cobb, Aaron, Musial and Speaker.
Jeter has always conducted himself in a quiet way, leading by example. This has been true both on and off the field. Very protective of his private life, he has pretty much avoided being linked with public sexcapades. While initially under the quiet leadership of Joe Torre, then followed by the business-like approach of Joe Girardi, Jeter’s Yankees would never rival the Bronx Zoo clubs of the George Steinbrenner-Billy Martin years in terms of sensationalism. However, whenever something did emerge regarding a teammate dealing with contracts, steroids or social lives, Jeter did his best to stay above the fray and concentrate on the matter at hand: Winning another World Series.
We all have our favorite Jeter moments: the flip, the dive into the stands, the “Mr. November” home run, etc. My personal favorite took place during the fourth game of the 2000 World Series. Shea Stadium was the site where the Mets had just defeated the Yankees in the previous game, ending the Bombers’ record steak of 14 straight victories in World Series games, dating back to 1996. Trailing in games, 2-1, the momentum seemed to have shifted over to the Amazin’s as Jeter led off this pivotal fourth contest. But on the first pitch, Jeter hit a home run!
And that did it.
Words that come to mind regarding Jeter are professional, clutch and intangible.
I believe that Jeter will be ranked as the greatest of all shortstops, with the exception of The Flying Dutchman, Honus Wagner.
As far as the Yankees go, he was not Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio or Mantle … but he was good enough to be Derek Jeter. And that was more than enough for not only Yankees fans, but all lovers of the National Pastime.
Congratulations, Derek! Have a great final year.
You deserve it.
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