Thursday, May 11, 2017

Legacies: Derek Jeter

On Sunday night, the New York Yankees will retire the last single digit number in their uniform numbers. Even though this coincides with Mother's Day this year, it will also bring another thing. That is a new monument for its Monument Park in center field beyond the bleachers. This honor belongs to probably the best modern Yankee, Derek Jeter.

Jeter was a sixth overall pick in the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft out of high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan. At first, he struggled, but improved throughout the four years of working in the Yankees farm system. Though he would make his debut in the spring of 1995, he was only there for a couple handfuls of games. With an injury to Tony Fernandez before the 1996 season began, there wasn't much of a choice but for the first rounder to be the opening day starter. The worry was gone when Jeter hit a home run against the Cleveland Indians. Final numbers that year included a .314 average with 10 home runs and 78 runs batted in en route to a World Series championship.

Jeter's career is one of the great ones in a very controversial era. Although he and Yankee owner George Steinbrenner made fun of it years later in a Visa commercial, the biggest trouble he ever had was being one that wanted to enjoy the New York nightlife. With that anger from the owner himself, the focus on baseball was bigger and he built that on a number of all star appearances, 200 hit seasons, and making some of the biggest plays in baseball history. He followed the game the right way when others were using steroids, especially as his career took off when the 1998 home run race was becoming a heated one. A lot of people might forget the Yankees were one of the most dominant teams that year and got another World Series win.

There shouldn't be any doubt that Jeter will be in the Hall of Fame. The crowds will be very huge in Cooperstown come 2019 if he doesn't get snubbed. It will probably be big next year if his teammate, Mariano Rivera, gets in. These two, along with others like Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, and a few others helped define a big era of baseball in the Bronx. Although Williams was the only one in the names mentioned that played when the Yankees got back to having winning seasons in 1993, they were part of the influx of young players and mixed with veterans like Wade Boggs, Jimmy Key, and Paul O'Neill, That's what started the late 90s dynasty, one that won't ever be replicated. Hell, I'm not sure if you can repeat now these days in baseball.

Years from now, a lot of people will be proud to see Jeter as the great model player who others should inspire to be today. A great baseball mind, he will stick to the sport he grew up playing in for over 30 years, especially as he looks to potentially own the Miami Marlins. A shining star that will still be bright, even after when he is gone from the world.

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