Remembering the top 10 moments of Derek Jeter's legendary career before his number is officially retired

One the eve of Derek Jeter’s jersey retirement ceremony, many Yankee fans are conflicted between looking back on Jeter’s illustrious career, and looking ahead at the bright future that this young Yankee team has ahead of them. Make no mistake, no matter how short the Yankees rebuild is, or how talented the Yankees are in 2017, Sunday night is all about the legendary Yankee captain. As a player who always seemed to have a flair for the dramatic, Jeter had his fair share of highlight reel and memorable moments in his career. While everyone has their own opinions on various moments and plays, this piece will countdown and recall some of your favorite Jeter moments throughout his storybook career.

Honorable Mentions:

Derek Jeter relay against Mets to get Timo
In the sixth inning of a scoreless game one of the 2000 World Series, Todd Zeile hit a rocket down the left field line, which Timo Perez thought was a home run on first base. After realizing David Justus was fielding the ball off the top of the wall, the speedy Perez came motoring around the bases, but a perfect relay by Jeter kept this game tied at 0.

Derek Jeter wins ASG MVP in 2000
Starting in place of an injured Alex Rodriguez, Jeter would go 3-for-3 in the 2000 All-Star Game including a double off Randy Johnson in the first inning. He picked up two RBIs and scored a run en route to winning the MVP honors.

Derek Jeter becomes the 11th Yankee captain in history in June 2003
Eight seasons after the previous captain Don Mattingly retired, George Steinbrenner named Derek Jeter the 11th recognized Yankee captain on June 3, 2003. Jeter joined a prestigious list of Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, and many other Yankee legends.
Photo Credit: Al Behrman | AP
Derek Jeter first pitch leadoff home run in game 4 of 2000 Subway Series World Series
Following a Game three loss to the New York Mets snapping the Yankees 14-game World Series winning streak, the Mets were loaded with enough momentum to turn their 2-1 deficit around. However, Jeter quickly shifted the momentum back to the Yankees side with a leadoff solo home run at Shea Stadium to lead the Yankees to a 4-1 series victory. Jeter would go on to win the World Series MVP award.

Derek Jeter flip into the stands against Oakland
Ah, the second best play of this series. You may find the best play of this series later on in this article, and that’s all I have to say about that.

Derek Jeter homer in first AB back from injury in 2013
One of the most heartbreaking moments in the eyes of many Yankee fans came in game one of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers when the Yankees lost their captain to a fractured ankle. Unfortunately, this injury put Jeter’s career on a downward slope, but not before making a few more memorable moments before his career was all said and done. Jeter returned on July 11, but would injure his quad in that game, going back to the DL. He returned for good on July 28, and on the first pitch he saw, "El Capitan" hit an opposite field home run.

Let's get to the official countdown.

10. Derek Jeter iconic jump play to retire Travis Fryman
This play almost did not make the top 10, but come on, how many young baseball players have you seen field a ball going to their right, jump off their left foot, and yell “JETER”? It’s almost like Randy Moss back in his prime where kids would make a leaping catch only to yell “MOSSED!” Sure, you’ve got the Jeter haters who will say he was never the an incredible fielder, and they may be right. Despite that, the gold gloves speak for themselves, and some of the plays you’re going to see further down in this article will only exemplify Jeter’s highlight reel career both offensively and defensively. Obviously, this was not the only jump throw play Jeter made in his career, but it was this particular play that started this trend among young shortstops at any level.

9. Derek Jeter hits his first career home run on his first career Opening Day
“Oh! He got a run on that one, that’s gone! Holy cow!” Legendary call from a legendary Yankee, Phil Rizzuto. I can’t imagine Rizzuto thought this 22-year-old kid would surpass him as the greatest shortstop in the historic Yankees organization along with becoming arguably the greatest shortstop to ever play. After making an unimpressive debut in 15 games in 1995, Jeter was officially named the Yankees starting shortstop to begin in the 1996 season. As they say, the rest is history. Jeter essentially began his Yankee career with a home run, and he, along with the franchise, never looked back from there. He would go on to win the AL Rookie of the Year in ‘96 with a .314 average, 10 homers, and 78 RBIs. Jeter amassed a surprisingly solid 260 career home runs, third all time among shortstops, and while this first one was memorable, he hit quite a few bigger homers in his long career.

8. Derek Jeter delivers a speech in final game at the Old Yankee Stadium
The Yankees picked up their 85th win of the season with a 7-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on September 21, 2008. That's not why it was an important win. Unfortunately, Jeter went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in that game, but it’s what he did after the game leaving his mark on the Old Yankee Stadium in its final game. Jeter says he ad-libbed the speech, and honestly, I’m not surprised. Nothing I can write can do this speech its due-diligence; Jeter can’t do any wrong. Also, here’s your useless fact of the day, Jose Molina hit the last home run ever at the historic Yankee Stadium. More importantly, here’s the speech below.

7. Derek Jeter passes Lou Gehrig on the Yankees all-time hits list in 2009
The year 2009 was a good year for the Yankees. On September 11, 2009, Derek Jeter hit a ball down the right field line in the third inning recording his 2,722nd career base hit. Before Jeter, Lou Gehrig held that record that stood for 72 years. Teams from both sides and every fan in attendance would stand and applaud the Yankee captain to congratulate him on his incredible feat. Surprisingly, Jeter would later become the first Yankee to ever join the 3,000 hit club. And another thing we all remember - the Yankees went on to win their 27th World Series title in 2009, the final of Jeter's five rings.

6. The Jeffrey Maier home run in the 1996 ALCS
On October 9, 1996, the Yankees opened the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. In the bottom of the eighth inning with the Yankees trailing 4-3, Jeter picked on the short porch in right field. However, short porch wasn’t quite short enough. That is, until 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier stepped in. The young Yankee fan reached over the wall and pulled a ball over the wall for a solo home run to tie the game. Camping under the ball was Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco, who may have had a fair shot at catching that ball, and we all remember him going ballistic on right field umpire Rich Garcia, who insisted it was a home run despite Tarasco’s animated argument. Hell, even the Orioles pitcher Armando Benitez ran all the way out to right field to plead his case. The Yankees would go on to win the game on a Bernie Williams walk-off home run in the 11th inning, but without the help of Jeter and Maier, the Yankees may have lost game one. Maier did not even catch the baseball, but his contributions to the Yankees led the team to offering him seats behind the Yankee dugout for a late game in the postseason that year. The Bombers ended up winning the series 4-1, and went on to win the ‘96 World Series in six games over the Atlanta Braves. It was the first of Jeter’s five rings.

5. “The Dive” catch against Boston in a Yankees classic
In the bottom of the 12th inning of a Yankees/Red Sox classic on July 1, 2004, Jeter went head first with a full head of steam into the stands after making a clutch running grab. With runners on second and third in a tie game, pinch hitter Trot Nixon blooped a ball that would have scored two runs had it fallen in for a hit. Jeter, who seemed to always shine the brightest when the team needed him the most, knew the situation and went all out to catch the ball. The catch ended the inning, and ended the game for Jeter as he left the game with a bloody chin, swollen cheek, and sore shoulder. Despite his injuries, Jeter would play the next day. Additionally, the Yankees won this instant classic in the bottom of the thirteenth thanks to a two-out rally ending with a game winning single by current Yankee broadcaster John Flaherty. Also, another fun fact, this was the first game that Alex Rodriguez played shortstop in pinstripes following his position change to third base.

4. Derek Jeter becomes “Mr. November” after walk-off home run in 2001 World Series
The 2001 World Series marked the first time baseball was played in November in the history of the sport. Playing inspired following the tragic September 11 attacks earlier that year, the Yankees needed a huge moment to get back into the series. Trailing 2-1 in the series in a tie game in the 10th, inning, Jeter hit perhaps the most clutch home run of his entire career. In a game that began at 8:30 on Halloween, the clock struck midnight during Jeter’s at-bat, becoming the first time baseball had been played in November. After an epic nine pitch at-bat, Jeter picked on short porch to hit a critical walk-off home run to tie the game at two games apiece, officially cementing his legacy as baseball’s “Mr. November.” Great call, Michael Kay. Hollywood could not have possibly written a better script. Unfortunately, Luis Gonzalez ended the series in game seven on a heartbreaking walk-off single off the ever so reliable Mariano Rivera, but this series continued solidifying Jeter as a legend in the making.

3. Jeter hits a walk-off single in his final at-bat in pinstripes
Derek Jeter played his final game in pinstripes on September 25, 2014, and it was special from the beginning. In a 3-1 hitter’s count in the first inning, Jeter banged an RBI double off the 399 foot wall in left center field scoring Brett Gardner to tie the game at one. Off the bat, it looked like a two-run home run, but Jeter was forced to settle for a double, passing Tony Gywnn on the all-time doubles list. Jeter also drove home two more runs on an RBI groundout in a tie game in the seventh inning, which also led to a second run coming home on a J.J. Hardy error to make the score 4-2. Leading 5-2 in the ninth, Yankee closer David Robertson blew the save by allowing a two-run home run to Adam Jones, followed by a solo home run to Steve Pearce, and the script was officially written for Jeter, who was due up second in the bottom of the ninth. Jose Pirela led off the inning with a single, and he was lifted for a speedy Antoan Richardson, who would subsequently steal second base with Jeter at the dish. In his last at-bat in front of the greatest fanbase in the world, Jeter inside-outted a ball to right field, scoring Richardson from second to end the game. Moments like this made you sit back in disbelief due to the magnitude of the accomplishment, but because it was Derek Jeter, you almost expected it. In Jeter’s career, fantasy becoming a reality seemed to be a nightly occurrence, and hey, another good call from Michael Kay.

2. Derek Jeter hits a home run for his 3,000th career hit
As Jeter looked to become the first Yankee to reach the 3,000 hit milestone, Jeter wanted to do it on the Yankees home stand in front of their loyal fanbase. With Rays ace David Price on the mound on July 9, 2011, Jeter led off the game with a single bringing him just one hit away from etching his name in the record books. Jeter came up again in the bottom of the third, and worked a full count. On that 3-2 count, Price hung a slider, and Jeter made him pay with a no-doubter home run for his 3,000th career hit, joining Wade Boggs as the only player to previously accomplish this milestone on a home run (of course, Alex Rodriguez also joined the 3,000 hit club on a home run nearly three years later). The first player to greet Jeter at the plate was his longtime friend Jorge Posada, and they shared a long embrace before Jeter was congratulated by all of his teammates, the Rays, and the home fans. Christian Lopez graciously agreed to give the ball back immediately in a nice gesture, and I imagine that ball is somewhere in Jeter’s large and impressive trophy case. And if you don’t remember, Jeter went 5-for-5 that day, including a go-ahead and ultimately game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning. It’s Derek Jeter, what did you expect?

1. The “Flip Play”
One of the greatest characteristics of Derek Jeter throughout his career was that he was always doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time. Jeter did not earn the nickname “Captain Clutch” by accident, and he had a knack for coming up in huge ways on the offensive and defensive side. With a 1-0 lead in game three of the 2001 ALDS down 2-0 in the series on the brink of elimination on the road, the Yankees needed a huge play to preserve their lead after Terrance Long laced a ball down the right field line. Fielded by Shane Spencer in the right field corner, his arid throw missed both Alfonso Soriano and Tino Martinez as the cutoff men. Seeing this overthrow coming, Jeter raced down from second base to pick the ball off between first base and home plate and flip it to Jorge Posada to slap the tag on Jeremy Giambi, who was trying to score from first. The Yankees went on to win that game by a 1-0 score, and used that momentum to storm back and win the series 3-2. An unwaveringly humble Jeter will claim that he was just doing his job and that he was where he was supposed to be, but this heads up play will always go down as one of the greatest, most heads up defensive plays the game will ever see.

There are so many moments of Jeter’s career that define his legendary career. While it is impossible to look at one play as the signature moment of his career, this list of moments make up the full body of work that makes Jeter arguably the most popular and well-liked player in the history of sports. You don’t have to love Jeter (unless you’re a Yankee fan), but you do have to respect the player for all of his accomplishments over his Hall of Fame career. When the Yankees retire his number on Sunday night, the Derek Jeter book with the Yankees may officially be over, but his legacy will live on. His next step in life is Cooperstown, and it looks like he may also be spending an increased amount of time in Miami, as the man simply cannot stay away from the sport he has cherished for his entire life.

Article by: Chad Raines


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