Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame career with the Yankees is filled with some of the most memorable moments in Major League History. In this post, I take a look back at some of the more underrated moments of the Captain’s career.
It’s almost impossible to rank some of Derek Jeter’s most memorable plays and moments from top to bottom because they’re all so special in their own way. From “The Flip” to “The Dive” to “Mr. November” Jeter always seemed to come through in the biggest spots to help the Yankees win a ball game.
Whether it was hitting a home run for hit # 3,000 or lining a walk-off single in his last game at Yankee Stadium Jeter always had flair for the dramatic. These moments helped define the type of player and clutch performer he was and contributed to him becoming a baseball icon and one of the most beloved athletes we have ever seen.
Too often I hear people talk about how there were better players than Jeter during his era and guys who had way more talent. That may be true, but it’s hard to find a player in history who has had more big moments than he has throughout his Hall of Fame career. I already named five of them, but what about some of his other greatest plays? There are so many to choose from but here are five more that really stuck out.
2000 World Series MVP (Relay throw in Game 1, first pitch HR in Game 5)
There has never been more pressure on the Yankees to win a World Series than there was in 2000 when they went up against the cross-town rival Mets in the Subway Series. In classic Jeter fashion, he stepped up with the pressure at its peak and was the biggest star throughout the series.
He hit .409 with nine hits and two home runs on his way to being named the series MVP. Winning the award made him the first player ever to win the All-Star Game and World Series MVP in the same season. Two plays that stuck out the most during the series, of course, involved Jeter. In Game 1, he made one of the greatest relays throws you’ll ever see to cut down the go-ahead run in Timo Perez at home plate. On the run, he caught the throw in from left fielder David Justice and fired a perfect strike on a hop home for Jorge Posada to make the tag to end the inning.
Then in Game 4 after the Yankees lost their first World Series game since Game 2 of 1996 he started things off at Shea Stadium with a bang by launching a first-pitch home run. Momentum was on the Mets side but right out of the gate he quieted the packed crowd and set the tone for the Yankees to win 3-2. From there the Yanks went on to win the next two games to clinch their third straight title.
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Catch in the stands in Game 5 of the 2001 ALDS
Most remember the 2001 ALDS for Jeter’s famous flip in Game 3 but two games later Derek made one of the best catches of his career to help the Yanks come back from a 2-0 series deficit to advance to the ALCS.
Before he made his famous dive against the Red Sox in 2004 Jeter found himself diving into the stands to catch a foul pop down the third-base line off the bat of Terrance Long. With a man on first and one out and the Yankees up 5-3, he showed zero regards for his health to secure the catch. It was another one of many examples of him putting his body on the line for the betterment of the team.
Game 1, 2006 ALDS
In 2006 Jeter should’ve been the AL MVP but he was robbed of the award by Twins slugger Justin Morneau. It was one of the best seasons of his entire career and he carried his success over in the postseason as always.
He started his October off with a 5-5 performance against the Tigers in Game 1 of the ALDS at Yanke Stadium. It was no surprise to anyone to see Jeter step up on the October stage and finish of the night with a home run to dead center in his final at-bat in the Yankees 8-4 win. The Yankees went on the lose the series in four games, but that had nothing to do with Jeter who batted .500 in 18 at-bats.
Speech after the last game at the old Yankee Stadium
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Before Jeter helped christen the new Yankee Stadium with a championship in 2009 the organization and the fans said goodbye to “The House that Ruth built” in 2008. After the last game ever played at the old stadium, Jeter was given a mic to address the home crowd one more time following a 7-3 win over the Orioles.
There was no script for Jeter to read off of but to no one’s surprise, he delivered an outstanding speech straight from the heart as thanked the greatest fans in the world and expressed what it means to wear the pinstripes. This wasn’t a play but it was such a special moment and one that tells you all you need to know about what a class act Derek always was.
1996 Opening Day
Last on the list is Jeter’s first Opening Day with the Yankees in 1996 on a cold day in Cleveland. Expectations were high for Jeter after he made the club as a 21-year-old out of Spring Training and he certainly lived up to them and then some.
We should have known that he was on his way to becoming something special after he launched his first career home run and later made an amazing acrobatic catch to lead the Yankees to a 7-1 win. It was a terrific first impression from Jeter and the beginning of a season that ended with him winning AL Rookie of the Year and the Yankees first world championship since 1978.
It also really marked the start of his Hall of Fame career and was the first of many incredible moments that Yankee fans will never forget.