Derek Jeter is, without question, one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game. His career, since his very first game, has been the stuff of legend, as he has become, in my opinion, the greatest Yankee of all time. However, throughout his illustrious career, there have been some moments for Derek Jeter that have stood out above the rest, some occasions where the Captain seemed almost like a superhero rather than a real player. Here are my picks (in no particular order) for the 15 most epic Derek Jeter moments of all-time.
First career hit
Every great career has to start somewhere, and for Derek Jeter, it started with a hard hit single into left field. It makes sense that Jeter’s first hit would be a hard hit base knock, and as he got older, he would hit singles to ever part of the park, spraying the ball around the field, hitting it down the line to left or to right center and everywhere in between. This base hit was the first one of his career and it was also the first in a long line of great Derek Jeter moments that were still to come.
First career walk-off
Another first for Jeter was his first walk-off to win a game for the Yankees, and of course it came against the Red Sox and of course it was in extra innings and of course it was a single up the middle. In front of the hometown fans at Yankee’s stadium, this was one of Derek Jeter’s first truly clutch moments, but as we know, his first walk off hit was just one of numerous more clutch plays he’d make throughout his career.
Jeffrey Maier homer
In the first ALCS Jeter ever played in, back in 1996, the Yankees faced the Orioles and would end up defeating the O’s before going on to win the World Series. However, no team gets to the World Series (let alone wins it) without a little luck sometimes, and the Yankees and Jeter certainly has some extra help when a fan named Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence in right field and pulled Jeter’s fly ball over for a home run, helping the Yankees tie Game 1 of the series. While it’s most definitely fan interference, the umpires never called it, and that tying homer remains one of the most memorable Derek Jeter moments in history.
1996 Rookie of the Year…and World Series Champ
1996, Jeter’s rookie season, was a huge, career-making year for the future baseball star. Jeter not only won Rookie of the Year that year, but he also helped the Yankees get to and win the World Series. It was New York’s first World Series win in almost 20 years (they hadn’t been champions since 1978). More importantly, it was the beginning of a renaissance in Yankees baseball, and it was the rookie, the young Derek Jeter, leading the charge.
Winning All-Star Game MVP in 2000
While 1996 was a huge, groundbreaking year for Derek Jeter, 2000 was almost, if not, just as big a year. It all started with Derek Jeter winning the All-Star Game MVP award, going 3-3 with two RBIs. Funny enough, Jeter wasn”t even supposed to be the starting shortstop for the American League that year. Some guy named Alex Rodriguez was supposed to start, but he got injured so Jeter needed to step in and show everyone how it’s done.
Subway Series MVP
To cap off yet another great season for him, Jeter helped take the Yankees back to the World Series in 2000, where they faced their fellow New York City rivals, the Mets. The Yankees ended up winning the World Series again that year, their third championship in a row and their fourth in just five years, and a lot of that was thanks to Jeter’s stellar play. Jeter ended up winning the World Series MVP award for his play throughout the series, becoming the only player in MLB history to win both the All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP awards in the same season.
The Flip during the 2001 ALCS
Even re-watching this video today, I still don’t understand how exactly Jeter made this play, which should further cement as one of the greatest Derek Jeter moments of all-time. During the 2001 ALCS (because, of course, the Yankees had to make it to the World Series again, although they lost this year to the Arizona Diamondbacks), Jeter made an absolutely sensation toss to home plate to get a runner out. It’s a play that is so memorable and distinct that it is refereed by baseball fans simply as “The Flip.”
After his great performance and New York’s defeat of Oakland in the ALCS in 2001, Jeter and the Yankees moved on to the World Series to face the Arizona Diamondbacks. The end of the baseball season had been delayed a week that year because of the attacks on September 11th, so the World Series, for the first time in baseball history, was partially played in November. As the clock had just struck midnight, the night becoming the morning of November 1st, during Game 4, Derek Jeter came up to the plate and hit a walk-off homer to win the game for the Yankees. Although, like I said above, the Yankees ultimately lost this series, this deserves a spot on this list of great Derek Jeter moments because the home run gave Jeter one of his most infamous titles: Mr. November.
Diving into the stands
For me, this is my all-time favorite Derek Jeter moment, because not only does he dive to catch this ball, but he ends up falling into the stands to make this catch. You add to the fact that this was a game against the Yankees most hated rival, the Boston Red Sox, and the fact that Jeter came up from his fall with his face bruised and bloodied, and I still don’t see how you could argue that there’s a better moment in Derek Jeter’s career. This epitomized the way Jeter played the game: always hard and always consistent.
Passing Lou Gehrig
One of the reasons that I believe that Derek Jeter is the greatest Yankee to ever play the game is because he holds a lot of the Yankees’ records, none of which are more important the team’s all-time hits’ record, a record that Lou Gehrig held and that Jeter beat with a single into left field. It was hit number 2,722 for Jeter’s career. He still had some more to go.
His speech after the last game at Old Yankees Stadium
One word that could always describe Derek Jeter, besides tough, consistent, and talented, is classy. And Jeter was never classier than after the final game at Old Yankees Stadium, where he not only acknowledged the great history that the park held but also the “greatest fans in the world” that showed up every night to fill the seats in the stadium. Like I said – classy.
Not many people get to 3,000 hits in baseball. Even less get that 3,000th hit by smashing a home run into the stands, but Jeter did both of those back on July 9, 2011. He became the 28th member of the 3,000th hit club and only the second player to do it by hitting a homer (Wade Boggs was the other). Plus, just because he could, Jeter drove in the go-ahead run for the Yankees during the game and finished the day going 5-for-5.
When returning to baseball in July 2013, after suffering from a broken ankle and many setbacks, Jeter made sure he came back in dramatic fashion. In his first at bat, literally at the first pitch he was, Jeter hit a home run, making the crowd at Yankees Stadium go nuts and ensuring that it was yet another all-time great Derek Jeter moment.
Double and standing ovation in final All-Star Game
While these final two epic Derek Jeter moments are still fresh and new, only happening just two days ago at Jeter’s final MLB All-Star Game ever, they act as great capstone to what has been a tremendous career for Derek Jeter. Not only did he get multiple standing ovations during the game on Tuesday night, but he also went 2-for-2 with a double and a single, scoring the first run of the game for the American League in the bottom of the first. While there’s still another half of the season left for Derek Jeter to play, I don’t see how it could get much better than his performance in this year’s All-Star Game. But, hey, I would never beat against the guy.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Image