Those who grew up in the 70's fondly remember the brilliance of ballplayers like Joe Morgan and Reggie Jackson. Those who spent the 80's listening to disco also had the chance to live through the glory years of stars like Mike Schmidt, Rickey Henderson and Gary Carter.
Those of us who witnessed the greatest players of the 90's and 2000's have plenty of names to pick from, but there's one that will undoubtedly forever stand out above the rest: Derek Jeter.
Drafted 6th overall in 1992 by the New York Yankees, Jeter is one of the few sports stars of the past 20 years to remain eternally loyal to one organization. Not only is Jeter among the greatest Yankees of all-time, he will also slide right into the discussion of the best of all-time at the shortstop position. The number speak for themselves - it's the legacy Jeter leaves behind for Yankee fans and fans of the game alike, a legacy that will never be forgotten and has been matched by few throughout the illustrious history of Major League Baseball.
Derek Jeter played his entire career for one of the most hated franchises in all of sports, and yet he managed to establish himself as one of the most likable athletes in the history of the game. Even the staunchest of Red Sox fans could not debate the aura and greatness of the rival Yankees long-time captain. Can anyone else remember an athlete getting such a majestic send-off and two commercials from massive sports brands simply aired as a final shout-out to a spectacular career?
While Jeter might have been a stand-up guy off the field (and a big hit with the ladies), his biggest contributions came between the foul lines. With that, we present the Top 15 greatest moments of Derek Jeter's illustrious career.
And we bid adieu, with a tip of a cap, to one of the greats...number two, Derek Jeter. Number two.
15 The First of Many
May 30th, 1995. Another day at the ballpark. The Yankees are in Seattle for an early-season series against the Seattle Mariners. Jeter, up to this point, is 0-for-6 at the plate in his short time with the big club. High expectations for the 6th overall pick means he had to deliver something soon - and he did. Leading off the 5th inning, he took the first pitch he saw from Mariners starter Tim Belcher to left field, placed perfectly between the third-basemen and shortstop.
14 Ankle Injury Return
13 2000 All-Star Game MVP
12 Captain Jeter
When people think of the captain in sport, they don't often point to baseball as a sport with an "important" captaincy. George Steinbrenner put it best after bestowing the honor upon Jeter in an interview:
"He represents all that is good about a leader. I'm a great believer in history, and I look at all the other leaders down through Yankee history, and Jeter is right there with them.''
11 Mr. 3000
10 Farewell, Yankee Stadium (The Speech)
The "Old" Yankee Stadium was one of baseball's hallowed grounds - the House That Ruth Built, the home of the Bronx Bombers, the place where legends from all eras of baseball frequently dazzled and amazed. On September 21st, 2008, the old Yankee Stadium lowered its curtains one last time, and who else but Derek Jeter to give it it's final send-off?
9 2014 All-Star Game
8 1996 World Series
This list started with Jeter's first hit, and could easily have ended with his first World Series. Jeter himself ranked his first World Series championship as his favorite memory from the old Yankee Stadium, and perhaps his favorite of all-time. He capped off that season with a Rookie of the Year award, but it's the championship ring that holds the most meaning to Jeter.
7 Passing Lou
6 "Subway" World Series MVP
5 The Jeffrey Maier Home-Run
4 "The Dive"
3 "Mr. November"
2 "The Flip"
1 Derek Jeter's Final Home Game
It hasn't happened yet, of course, but there's no doubt that Derek Jeter's final sendoff at Yankee Stadium will be one of the most memorable farewells not only in the history of baseball, but in all of sport. No Major League ballplayer in the last 20 years has had as much of an impact on their team and city as Derek Jeter has had with New York and the Yankees. It will be one last goodbye, one last thank you, one last "Derek, Jeter, clap clap, clap clap clap" for Yankees fans to bestow their unfailing love and immense gratitude on their superstar, their leader, and their hero.
Make sure you're in front of a TV (or better yet, at Yankee Stadium) for that final farewell for one of the greatest of all-time: number two, Derek Jeter...number two.
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