Yankees History: Six Great Moments From 1990 To The Present

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via USA TODAY Sports /

On the day following Derek Jeter’s heroics, the New York Times opened its story aptly, in this way:

"“He almost started crying as he drove himself to Yankee Stadium in the afternoon. He had to turn away from his teammates before the game when they presented him with gifts, so overcome was he by the emotion. In the first inning, he said, he barely knew what was happening, and later, in the top of the ninth, his eyes welled with tears to the point that he worried that he might break down in front of the crowd of 48,613.
But when the time came for Derek Jeter to get a game-winning hit, to add another signature moment to a long list of achievements over his 20-year career, he knew exactly what to do, and seemingly no one doubted that he would.”"

Yes, everyone knew he would do it. With that inside out swing, perfected over twenty years in a Yankees uniform, it wasn’t much to look at. A lazy blooper just over the right side of the infield, but just enough to do what Derek Jeter had been doing in every one of those prior years, as the heart of the team and driving in a winning run, just as he had so many times before.

And in the days just before this one, Jeter had taken a stroll down River Avenue just outside the Stadium, greeting surprised fans and enjoying the sounds of the overhead el train as it screeched to a halt at one of the most famous addresses in all of baseball. Along the way, he made a stop at Stan’s Sports Bar just across the street from Yankee Stadium.

A surprised bartender greeted him with, “Well, how come it took you so long?” Typically, Jeter deadpanned: “You never invited me.”

And that’s the way it always was with Derek Jeter. A cut above, separated from the rest, and yet always knowing the right thing to say, the right way to act, the right way to be a New York Yankee.

And it wasn’t by chance that he would develop a relationship with his manager, Joe Torre, that led him to always refer to the man as “Mr. Torre”.

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And it was no accident that every time Jeter emerged from the clubhouse to take the field; he would always reach up to touch the plaque that reads, “I just want to thank the good Lord for making me a New York Yankee,” words uttered by Joe DiMaggio.

Twenty years, before ending it all with the most hits ever by a Yankee, and five World Championships to his credit, Jeter walked away from the game, having played all of his games at one position and one team. And how many times did we find ourselves saying, “You can’t make this stuff up, he’s done it again.”

And even when the heroics weren’t supposed to happen, they did. As when a twelve-year-old in the right field stands reached down and grabbed a sure out from the outstretched glove of Tony Tarasco in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, the year the Yankees would go on to win their first World Championship since 1978.

Yankees fans will flock to Cooperstown, New York in 2020 to witness Jeter’s induction to the Baseball Hall Of Fame. He should be a unanimous selection, but these days, you never know with some of these sportswriters. He will join Mariano Rivera, who will have been inducted the previous year on a stage in front of as many as 100,000 fans who will be there to say a simple, “Thank you.”

And he will give a speech containing words that reveal nothing. He will say all the right things and will be his usual humble self. Except for the one thing, he can’t hide, and that’s the expression on his face when it hits him that this moment in time has come. With the quiet yet confident expression of a winner. Not quite like the photo, I chose that appears above, but darn close to it.

Next: Tinkering With 2017 Batting Order Possibilities

That clip, a look back at that moment that closed the career of Mr. Jeter, the consummate New York Yankee. It’s also one that’s been viewed more than a million and a half times, and we know why.