When people describe an athlete as having “it” that can be pretty vague. “It” is such a small word but in this case can be loaded with meaning. I believe in the case of Derek Jeter he does have “it”. But what is his “it”? Derek Jeter was not the best baseball player I have ever seen play but he might be the closest thing to a perfect player. I will admit to being a Yankee homer but I think most could agree that Jeter had something special.
Derek Jeter will have his jersey #2 retired this weekend joining so many Yankee greats. That list of greats will include many that people would rank higher in the baseball standing than they do Jeter. That isn’t where Jeter’s greatness lies though. The Captain had an amazing knack to be BIG in the most important moments. His uber alert defensive play in the playoffs against the A’s saved a run when he spotted an overthrow and still got in place to nab a non-sliding Giambi for an out. He left his feet into the stands to catch a post-season foul ball risking his body all to get a critical out. Dramatic hits in the post-season were commonplace for Jeter. He also had a flair for his own personal dramatic events like when his 3,000 career hit was a home run. Also on that day he went 5-5. In Jeter’s final game of his career at Yankee stadium he sent the New York die hards home happy with a walk off hit.
Call him “The Captain”, call him “Mr. November” and call him a future hall of famer. The 14 time all-star, 5 time world series champ, rookie of the year, world series MVP, All-Star game MVP, and 5 time gold glover will see his number 2 join many other Yankee greats. That number is worn across the Major Leagues by many others that are doing it in homage to Jeter. He had that kind of impact on the game and did it in the city that never sleeps. He played a position with so much pressure and handled it with so much grace. I miss Derek Jeter in Yankee pinstripes but I am glad that he never wore another professional uniform. That too is rare. They don’t make many like Derek Jeter. There will be more that will try and mimic him and may even be a better player than him, but I doubt many will ever have the knack for the moment that he did. I will watch this weekend with pride, with joy and with much respect. Congrats #2 and thanks for the memories.