The uncomplicated legacy of NY’s Jeter

Jeter has been a class act off the field and an all-time great on it, leading the Yankees to five World Series titles in his two-decade career. (AP Photo)
Jeter has been a class act off the field and an all-time great on it, leading the Yankees to five World Series titles in his two-decade career. (AP Photo)

Ruth, Mantle, Berra, Dimaggio, Gehrig and Rivera — the list goes on and on. Some of the greatest players in MLB history have worn the world-renowned blue pinstripes of the New York Yankees. This past week, 13-time all-star Derek Jeter announced his intentions to retire after the upcoming 2014 season. Over his legendary 19-year career, Jeter has over 3,000 hits, has won five Gold Glove awards, five Silver Slugger awards, five World Series Championships, Rookie of the Year honors and a World Series MVP.  These are the accomplishments of a player who comes along only once in a lifetime.

Drafted sixth overall by the Yankees in the 1992 amateur draft, Jeter was poised to become the Yankees shortstop of the future. Little did New York know at the time that they got a franchise player, as well as the foundation of their team for the next two decades. Jeter made his debut as a late-season call-up in 1995, playing in only 15 games. However, the Yankees liked what they saw of the 21-year-old and made him the starting shortstop on Opening Day in 1996. In his rookie season, Jeter batted a ridiculous .314 and led the Yankees in hits on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year award.

The legend of Jeter really grew that postseason, when Jeter led the Yankees to his first of five World Series victories and the Yankees’ first title since 1978. Over the next four seasons, Jeter and the Yankees won three World Championships and returned the Yankees to greatness.  In seven World Series appearances, Jeter earned the nickname “Mr. November,” because of his clutch performances in the World Series. In the World Series, the Captain has an unprecedented .321 batting average.

Jeter is just as well known for his off-the-field acts of kindness as his play on the field. Perhaps Jeter’s greatest career moment came after the attacks on 9/11. New York City was in a state of despair and looking for hope. In the weeks following the attacks, Jeter would visit victims’ families and spend hours just talking to kids and firefighters just to take their minds off things. Just two months after the attacks, the Yankees again found themselves in the World Series. Jeter played his heart out in that series, trying to win one for the fans. “I think we gave people something to cheer for for three hours a day, which was good,” Jeter said at the time. Unfortunately, the Yankees lost that series in seven games, but it didn’t take anything away from great acts of kindness from Jeter.

Jeter will go down as one of the greatest players to ever put on the pinstripes. Soon he will join the likes of Ruth, Mantle and Gehrig and have his iconic No. 2 jersey retired along with being enshrined in the Yankees storied Monument Park. Be sure to watch at least one Yankees game this summer, to catch one last glimpse of the greatest Yankee since Babe Ruth, before it’s too late.

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