10 of the Most Unforgettable Moments in Derek Jeter’s Career
The Captain is retiring.
New York Yankees star and five-time World Series champion Derek Jeter is hanging up his spikes at the end of the 2014 season after his twentieth year in pinstripes. Jeter’s time in the major leagues has given baseball fans countless memories, from the clutch to the emotional to the jaw-dropping to the victorious. Take a look back with us at ten of the most unforgettable moments in Derek Jeter’s unforgettable career, listed in chronological order.
1. 1996: The first home run
Jeter wasted no time making a statement in his first full season in the big leagues, hitting his first career home run on Opening Day 1996 in a 7-1 Yankees win. Jeter turned on an inside fastball and deposited it in the left-field stands of Cleveland’s Jacobs Field. He was hitting ninth in that game, but would climb to the top spots in the batting order by the time the playoffs rolled around.
2. 1996: The Jeffrey Maier home run
A Jeter home run to tie Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series in the bottom of the eighth inning was not without its share of controversy. Twelve-year-old fan Jeffrey Maier became a household name when he reached over the wall to catch the ball before Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco could get to it. The Yankees would go on to win the game 5-4 in extra innings and the series four games to one.
3. 2000: The World Series leadoff home run
2000 was a good year to be Derek Jeter. That summer, the shortstop became the first Yankees player ever to win the All-Star Game MVP, and he followed it up a few months later with a World Series MVP as the Bronx Bombers captured their third straight title. Jeter started Game 4 of the Fall Classic with a leadoff home run on the very first pitch against the Mets, sparking the Yankees toward a 3-2 win that put them on the doorstep of an eventual three-peat.
4. 2001: The Flip
Derek Jeter’s defensive skills were on full display in the 2001 ALDS, most notably during a play that will live in baseball rain-delay highlight shows for decades. ‘The Flip’ came in the seventh inning of Game 3 with the Yankees clinging to a one-run lead and trying to stave off elimination. As Jason Giambi headed for home, New York right fielder Shane Spencer’s throw missed the cutoff man. No problem, as Jeter sprinted toward the baseline on a full run and, in one motion, grabbed the ball off the bounce and shoveled it to the plate in time. (The play was so remarkable that it overshadowed Jeter’s ridiculous catch in Game 5 of that series, where he dove into the stands and somehow held onto the ball.)
5. 2001: The World Series walkoff home run
The Yankees made it all the way to the World Series in 2001, with seemingly the entire country rallying around Jeter’s New York ballclub after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In that series, the Yankees star added to his list of legendary moments with a 10th-inning walk-off home run to win Game 4. Because the series lasted into November for the first time in history, Jeter’s heroics against Arizona earned him the nickname ‘Mr. November,’ a play on former Yankees great Reggie Jackson’s ‘Mr. October’ moniker.
6. 2004: The Dive
Jeter showed off his abilities with the glove again in a July 2004 win over the Red Sox, racing into foul territory to catch a Trot Nixon pop-up and end the top of the 12th inning in a game New York eventually would win. With runners on second and third and two outs, Jeter was able to make the catch in left field but wasn’t able to slow his momentum before hurtling into the Yankee Stadium stands. Jeter left the game and the stadium for the hospital looking ‘bloodied,’ ‘beat up’, and ‘bruised’ after his crowd-surfing escapade, but the captain had done his part to earn New York a win over their long-time rivals.
7. 2009: The Yankee hit record
On September 11, 2009, Derek Jeter became the all-time hits leader in Yankees franchise history, passing Lou Gehrig in the record books with his 2,722nd career hit. Jeter ripped a single down the right field line in the third inning against the Orioles for the landmark hit and, of course, has spent the five years since putting that mark even more out of reach.
8. 2011: The 3,000th hit
Jeter joined the 3,000-hit club in style in 2011, reaching the milestone — how else? — on a home run off of Rays pitcher David Price. If that weren’t enough memories for one game, Jeter finished the contest a perfect 5-5 at the plate. Oh, yes, and he also got the game-winning hit in a 5-4 victory. Just another ho-hum, normal, boring day in the life of a baseball superstar.
9. 2013: The farewell to Rivera
One of the most memorable moments in Jeter’s career was his oh-so-brief role as the equivalent of an honorary manager. Jeter and longtime teammate Andy Pettitte went out to the mound in 2013 to take the ball from iconic closer Mariano Rivera in his final appearance for the franchise. An overwhelmed Rivera shared emotional embraces with both friends before leaving to a standing ovation, and perhaps giving Jeter a tiny bit of preparation for his own goodbye to the game, which would come twelve months later.
10. 2014: The Yankee Stadium walkoff
The most recent storybook moment of the Derek Jeter era was an ending Hollywood simply couldn’t script. Playing in his final home game — and what he revealed later would be his last appearance as a shortstop — Jeter closed his Yankee Stadium career on September 25, 2014 with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Orioles 6-5. Jeter was going to get a long, tearful ovation from the crowd in the Bronx no matter how that game ended, but leaving as a winner — because of his direct contribution — is as fitting a way to go out as we can remember for any baseball legend.