As Derek Jeter announced his retirement after the conclusion of the 2014 season, I felt the need to write a commemorative acknowledgment of his stellar career. Even as a Sox fan, I have nothing but respect for the future Hall of Famer as he concludes his career as the face of the Yankees franchise. Rookie of the Year, World Series MVP, 5x Silver Slugger, 5x Gold Glove Winner, and member of the 3,000 hit club. Not to mention the 5 World Series championships including three in a row from 1998-2000. All rivalries aside, it has been a pleasure to watch Jeter play and the Yankees are going to have quite the hole to fill at shortstop.
As a career .312 hitter with 3,316 hits and an OBP of .381, it can be easy to overlook Jeter’s adept ability in the field. Here is just one example of his athletic ability combined with his incredible defensive awareness on a play where he had no business even being close to making.
Another example comes against my hometown favorite. With Trot Nixon at the plate and a blooper hugging the left field line that falls as a hit 9 times out of 10. Nevertheless, Jeter comes careening from the shortstop position and flies into the stands with complete disregard for his body.
Lastly, a play that he regularly made throughout his stellar career. The backhander in the hole followed by the jumping throw across the body to make the out at first. In fact, growing up as a little leaguer, every kid would always try a play of similar character and naturally call it the “Jeter.”
Even with all of these credentials both in the field and at the plate, it is difficult to find more of a class act in baseball. The 2006 season perhaps sums up Jeter’s best year. With a .343 Batting Average, .417 OBP, 97 RBIs, and 118 runs, Jeter finished 2nd in MVP voting. Also, making the All Star team, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, add to the hardware that he achieved during this season.
That being said, one of the most impressive parts about the Yankee captain is his work off the field through his foundation, Turn 2. Founded in 1996, the goal is to prevent teenage drug and alcohol use in the New York City, Western Michigan, and Tampa Bay areas. While he might be leaving baseball at the conclusion of next season, it is reassuring to see that his positive effects will not leave the communities he has influenced.