From the days of my earliest memories, Derek Jeter has manned the shortstop position for the New York Yankees. As I grew up and so many of the best players I had watched were exposed as steroid users, Jeter continued to lead by example, compiling the most hits in Yankees history without ever dipping into that toxic world of PEDs.
For Jeter, until it is unexpectedly proven otherwise, this will be the dominant part of his legacy: that he was strong in the face of so much weakness. But there’s a second part to how history will view Jeter, and that is his devotion to winning in New York. As a Yankee fan growing up in Kalamazoo, Jeter always “got it”. And what I mean by that is the New York fan base’s intense desire to win and to represent their city proudly. Jeter did that better than anyone has ever done in the history of New York sports.
His intensity and passion bore fruit in the form of five World Championship rings, with him right at the center of it all. While others were barking at the media, Jeter took his passion on the field and gave Yankee fans individual performances that many have never seen before. While there have been many beloved Yankees, I’d be willing to bet that Derek Jeter is right near the top of the list for everyone who calls themselves a Yankee fan.
Combined with a winning spirit, Jeter has put up no-doubt, first ballot Hall of Fame numbers over his illustrious career. He is a .312 lifetime hitter, has put up 3,316 hits and has, surprisingly, stolen 348 bases. He is also a 13-time All Star, which demonstrates the respect he gained throughout baseball, even from enemy fans.
In short, Jeter is a class act. His adoration and respect for the game of baseball are to be commended in an era where that has gone by the wayside. I suggest that all fans take one long final glimpse at Derek Jeter on the diamond, because we’re not likely to see someone like this for a long time.