Monday, July 11, 2011

Compliments To The Captain

Finally, after having a down season last year and made worse by unpleasant contract negotiations with the Yankees, Jeter has become the 28th player to collect 3,000 hits and the first Yankee as well as the first player in New York to reach the historic plateau. He’s also the fourth youngest to reach the mark.   Jeter began the quest and continued the journey to 3,000 hits with the same bat he used when he was drafted by the Yankees as an 18 year old out of Kalamazoo Central  High. Throughout the minor leagues and 17 years in the majors, Jeter continues to use the same model bat (Louisville Slugger Model P72).  He accomplished the goal in a time when there was pressure to hit more home runs. 

Shortstops with 3,000 or more hits measure only a handful and Jeter is now the third shortstop to match the feat:  The others were Honus Wagner (3,415), considered by historians to be the best shortstop in the game’s history and Cal Ripken (3,184), whose streak of 2,632 consecutive games surpassed Gehrig’s. Jeter is the second player to reach 3,000 hits while still playing shortstop, joining Honus Wagner (1914). Only four major leaguers with 3,000 or more hits have worn a Yankee uniform during their careers (Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs and Paul Waner), but each got his 3,000 hit for another team.  Paul Waner, is the only major leaguer to wear a Yankee uniform after collecting 3,000 hits. 

Jeter will add the historic home run ball to his collection, which resides at his parents' home. The milestone collection includes:  his first hit, his 1,000th, the 2001 World Series Game 4 walk-off homer, the hit that broke the record for the most hits at the old Yankee Stadium and the hit that broke the franchise record for hits set by Lou Gehrig.  

Now that the spotlight on the exclusive milestone has dimmed, Jeter may have another run at batting .300 before the season is over.  Jeter is a career .313 hitter, but only two shortstops 37 or older ever batted .300 in a season (Wagner and Luke Appling), and none since 1949.  On the day Joe DiMaggio hit for the cycle, Jeter gets the historic 3,000 hit and becomes another "Great Living Yankee."

The National Baseball Hall of Fame will be accepting an artifact to commemorate the milestone. The museum already has 11 Jeter items, including a World Series jersey from his rookie season in 1996 and the batting gloves he wore for hit No. 2,722 in September 2009, breaking Lou Gehrig’s team record. The Hall of Fame has 3,000-hit balls from Aaron, Mays, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, Paul Waner and Al Kaline.

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Geo Ginrosge