(Obviously that was a joke before about another guest post on instant replay. Here’s the real one …)
Now up in the Pinch Hitters series are brothers Chris and Trevor Kaftan, who wrote about Derek Jeter’s place in Yankees history.
Chris and Trevor are third-generation Yankee fans. Their grandfather immigrated to the Bronx from Ireland in the 1930s and followed DiMaggio on his radio. Their mother grew up idolizing The Mick. Chris and Trevor started blogging in February 2008.
Chris, 31, is the director of curriculum & instruction at a private school in Maryland and frequents games at Camden Yards or Yankee Stadium. His daughter is now the fourth generation Yankee fan in the family. Trevor, 26, is a project consultant for Sears in upstate New York.
Derek Jeter is the best Yankee that ever lived.
Yes. Better than Ruth or Gehrig. Better than DiMaggio or Mantle. Not to trivialize their stats or their abilities, despite the records that Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio set, Jeter has had to deal with things that the Babe and the Iron Horse didn’t. Jeter has cemented himself in pinstripe history.
There’s no argument that today’s game is a much more difficult game than the one that Yankee legends played in. It features stronger and faster athletes and power pitchers who can prevent hitters from numbers that we don’t see as often such as .400 averages.
Jeter has had to contend with a 24/7 media, with paparazzi following him and his girlfriends and reporting about his personal life in addition to his play on the field. Yes, DiMaggio and Mantle had to deal with reporters writing about their personal lives but it stopped there. Today’s players have had to deal with the internet and the speed in which it provides information. If DiMaggio went out on the town with Marilyn, the world read about it the next evening in the newspaper. If Jeter goes out with Minka, we hear about it on Twitter or TMZ within seconds.
Jeter has already won more world championships for the Yankees than the Babe, and sits only one World Series win behind Gehrig and two behind Mantle. He will most likely not match DiMaggio’s nine titles.
In 2009, he passed Lou Gehrig as the Yankees hit leader and Mickey Mantle as the leader in at-bats. He also leads in hits for singles, is second in stolen bases, third in games played and fourth in runs scored. Jeter will lead all those categories by the end of his career. By the end of his career, there’s a good chance Jeter will be the third player on the 4,000 hits club, and will have amassed over 300 home runs, 1,500 RBIs, 350 stolen bases, and over 2,000 runs. He has four career Silver Sluggers, four Gold Gloves, two Hank Aaron Awards, a Babe Ruth Award and is a 10-time All Star. He has won a World Series MVP, All-Star Game MVP and the 1996 Rookie of the Year award.
His heart and passion for the game can be found in his spectacular defensive plays and clutch hits. Derek Jeter is the most clutch player ever to put on the pinstripes. There are no specific statistics for clutch situations but his play when the game on the line is incomparable that he has earned the nickname “Captain Clutch.” Jeter also gets credit for one thing that Gehrig, Ruth, DiMaggio or Mantle had to deal with: playing for George Steinbrenner.
There are a couple of arguments against him being the all-time best Yankee. The first might be his lack of AL MVP awards. DiMaggio and Mantle captured three awards each, Gehrig two and Ruth one. While he lacks a regular season MVP award, he has finished in the top three in voting at least three times. Jeter also hasn’t accomplished a big single season record, like Ruth’s 60 home runs, Gehrig’s 2,130 consecutive games or his 184 RBI in one season, or DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak but he has provided something extremely valuable for the Yankees: consistency at the plate and on the field.
Finally, the icing on the cake would be the character of Derek Jeter. Through his actions, words and charity, he has been the role model that every parent wants for their child, even the child of a Red Sox fan. Jeter is humble and constantly lauds the performance of his teammates and always avoids controversy.
Just this year, he was awarded with the Roberto Clemente Award, given out annually to the player that “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Through his Turn 2 Foundation, Jeter has raised over $8 Million to help disadvantaged kids stay off drugs and make good life decisions.
By the end of his illustrious career, Jeter will have been the greatest player to wear the pinstripes.