There were only a few of us left in the press box. We’d been there for almost 12 hours, written an unthinkable number of words, and witnessed baseball fairy tale. Even by Derek Jeter’s standards, Saturday had been an incredibly good day.
When it was over, I turned to Marc Carig and asked whether it was the most memorable thing he’d ever seen on a baseball field. He only had to consider the question for a second.
It’s hard to compare Saturday to a playoff game, and it might not be fair to compare it to a World Series clincher, but I can’t imagine forgetting a single thing about Jeter’s 3,000th. It wasn’t just the home run, it was everything that surrounded it. This was Jeter’s career played out in five at-bats. It was his talent and his legacy and his sense of the moment. A lot of people end up at the right place at the right time, but how many know exactly what to do when they get there? The fact that he admitted to his own vulnerability afterward made it all the more impressive.
For one afternoon, Jeter reminded everyone that he is, in fact, one of the greatest players any of us has ever seen. And I’ll never forget it.
“I just can think of only one person who can have a kind of day like today, at home” Alex Rodriguez said. “It’s Derek Jeter.”
“He prepares himself when he gets in these situations. He looks forward to things like today. Five-for-five don’t come easily. I think he enjoys that moment. He looks forward to it. Nobody better in the clutch. You guys have seen it in the postseason. He’s amazing what he’s been able to do. He looks forward to that moment, and today was a perfect example of it. To go out and get five hits today is amazing.”
“Well, this definitely ranks up there, number one to me. Because being the first one who has done that for the New York Yankees is tremendous and to be a part of that for me is an honor. But the best thing for him is how he prepares himself day in and day out for a performance like today. He has done it for year. I am happy for him. He deserves it. And I hope he has another thousand or two more.”
“It was definitely his day today. As much as it’s an honor to play with him, to have a locker next to him, I’m just going to go and say it’s an honor to know Derek Jeter. I’m happy today that I’m a Yankee and I got to be a part of this and share the field with a great baseball player.”
“That has been swirling around for a while now, and he’s right on the doorstep. He not only knocked on the door, he kicked it down. I mean, five hits, like I said, first ballot Hall of Famer for sure… What a day. I couldn’t have been more honored to be here and see that.”
“It’s just an amazing moment overall. I’m sitting there next to CC and I think he fouled off a 2-1 changeup and took a great swing. I said, ‘CC, if he gets another one, he’s liable to hit a home run.’ And sure enough he hits it out. It leaves you kind of speechless… I’ve said it all along, 3,000 hits in a Yankee uniform, for me, is like getting straight A’s at Harvard. He’s been a great student.”
“The dugout is the dugout, but after 2,999, his next at-bat, the dugout was full. All of our support staff. Everyone. If you look to my left, there’s the stairs that go down into the clubhouse, and it was packed. It was packed with people, and you knew that something special was about to happen. It was kind of the scene when we had two outs in the World Series in 2009, all of the sudden it was packed. It was great, because you see all the people that respect what Derek has done over his career and really care about him. And it was nice.”
“I want to give him a big hug. It’s an absolute wonderful accomplishment.”
Associated Press photos