Results tagged ‘ Dave Winfield ’
Former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield is among five Hall of Famers who will help select the design of a coin destined to become a favorite of baseball fans and coin collectors for generations to come.
Winfield was joined by Joe Morgan, Brooks Robinson, Ozzie Smith and Don Sutton on the panel selected by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the United States Mint to help choose the image for the obverse (heads side) of the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin.
The design competition, which began April 11 and runs through noon May 11, is open to United States citizens and permanent residents ages 14 and older. The winner of the design competition will be awarded $5,000 and the winner’s initials will appear on the minted coins.
“This is a Hall of Fame lineup that’s sure to produce a winner,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said. “Our Hall of Fame members show year-round support for our efforts to fulfill our mission to Preserve History, Honor Excellence and Connect Generations, and this is yet another example of the legends of the game stepping to the plate for the Museum. We are so appreciative of the efforts of Joe, Brooks, Ozzie, Don and Dave – and we all look forward to the final design selection.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Richard Hanna (R-NY) sponsored the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2012. The Coin Act calls for a three-coin program of $5 gold, $1 silver, and half-dollar clad coins, and requires a competition to select a common obverse design emblematic of the game of baseball.
“The Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin creates a lasting legacy for baseball and our national pastime,” Winfield said. “It is an honor for me to be a judge in this competition, to review submissions and help select the winning design that will appear on these coins. This program will ensure that the Hall of Fame can reach new audiences through its award-winning educational programs from Cooperstown for audiences around the world.”
In addition, the $5 gold and $1 silver coins will be the first “curved” coins minted and issued by the United States Mint, with the reverses (tail sides) being convex to more closely resemble a baseball and the obverses being concave to provide a more dramatic design. The winning obverse design will be unveiled later this year.
Guidelines for submitting designs include:
• The obverse design must be “emblematic of the game of baseball” and must include the inscriptions “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “2014.”
• Two-dimensional designs must be monochrome, not color, and three-dimensional models must be made using neutral plaster or a durable plastic material and should be approximately 8” in diameter.
• Designs must not include the name or depiction of a real player or any other person, living or not.
• Designs must not include depictions, names, emblems, logos, trademarks or any other indicia associated with any specific commercial, private, educational, civic, religious, sports, or other organizations whose membership or ownership is not universal, including any current or former baseball team, either professional or amateur.
• Designs must not include any depiction of a real baseball stadium, field, arena, either in whole or in part, whether or not currently existing or in use.
• Employees of the Department of the Treasury, including the United States Mint and other Treasury offices and bureaus, are ineligible.
A Kids’ Baseball Coin Design Challenge for children ages 13 and younger is also being held separately through May 23. Winners of the Kids’ Baseball Coin Design Challenge for children ages 13 and under will receive a $1 silver National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin and a certificate. The winning children’s designs will also be showcased on the Department of the Treasury, United States Mint and National Baseball Hall of Fame websites. The Kids’ Baseball Coin Design Challenge is hosted on Challenge.gov. For more information, please visit http://www.usmint.gov/kids/kidsbatterup.
For both the design competition and the kids’ challenge, the United States Mint will be working with the U.S. Government website, http://www.challenge.gov. For guidelines, rules and entry instructions, please visit http://www.baseballhall.org/coin-design and http://www.usmint.gov.
Not to be flippant about it, but the Yankees saved their worst for last. Their season ended with a thud Thursday as Detroit completed a four-game sweep of the American League Championship Series with a convincing 8-1 victory. It marked the second consecutive season that the Tigers eliminated the Yankees from the postseason, becoming the first team to do that since the New York Giants in the World Series of 1921 and 1922. A year later, the Yankees won the first of their 27 championships, so maybe this will be a good omen.
Nothing feels good to the Yankees now. Getting swept in a postseason series is something the franchise is not used to. It had not happened to the Yankees since the 1980 ALCS when they lost in three games to the Royals back when the series was still a best-of-5. The Yankees had played 36 postseason series without getting swept before Thursday.
It is not at all that difficult to analyze what went wrong for the Yankees. They simply did not hit. They scored in only three of the 39 innings of the series and only six runs total. They never had the lead for a single inning in the series, something that happened to them only once before, in the 1963 World Series when they were swept by the Dodgers.
Actually, the Yankees’ offense was pretty scarce throughout the postseason, but they were picked up by their pitching staff. The remarkable work of the rotation also ended Thursday as CC Sabathia, who got the Yanks into the ALCS with a complete-game triumph over the Orioles in Game 5 of the AL Division Series, came apart.
But what the Yankees needed more than a big game from CC Thursday was a big game from the lineup. Nick Swisher came up with his first run-scoring hit with a runner in scoring position in this postseason with a double in the sixth inning, but that was it as the team that set a franchise record with 245 home runs this year continued to falter in the postseason. A team that averaged 1.5 home runs per game during the regular season had only seven home runs in nine postseason games.
Raul Ibanez supplied most of the muscle with three dramatic home runs, but the Yankees got no homers from their usual sluggers – Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. It was not just a power outage, either. The Yankees’ team batting average was .157 in the ALCS and .188 overall in the postseason.
Ibanez’s heroics pinch hitting for Rodriguez in Game 4 of the ALDS unfortunately created a media circus around A-Rod, who had been rendered helpless against right-handed pitching in postseason play (0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts) and was benched in the final game of the ALDS and the last two games of the ALCS. Rodriguez has taken the blunt of the blame for the Yanks’ ouster, which is unfair.
He was part of the problem but by no means all of it. Eric Chavez, who replaced Rodriguez at third base, was hitless in 16 at-bats and made two costly errors in the ALCS. Curtis Granderson, who hit 43 home runs during the regular season, homered in Game 5 of the ALDS but was 0-for-11 in the ALCS. He had only two hits other than the home runs in 30 postseason at-bats and struck out 16 times. Swisher hit .167 with 10 strikeouts.
Then there was the strange case of Cano, who endured one of the cruelest postseasons for a New York player that brought to mind the struggles of Yankees right fielder Dave Winfield (1-for-22 in the 1981 World Series) and Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges (0-for-21 in the 1952 World Series).
Cano entered the postseason as the hottest hitter in baseball with a streak of nine multi-hit games in which he went 24-for-39, a .615 tear. The All-Star second baseman managed only three hits in 40 postseason at-bats (.075), including 1-for-18 (.056) against Detroit pitching. Cano went 29 at-bats without a hit over one stretch, the longest postseason drought in club history, which covers a lot of ground. This was the Yankees’ 51st postseason covering 73 series.
As it turned out, 2012 was a season in which the Yankees peaked too soon. They were running away with the AL East by mid-July with a double-digit lead and then had to fight and claw to finish in first place at season’s end. The same Baltimore team that hounded them in the regular season pushed them to the full five games of the ALDS. A talented Detroit staff headed by the game’s most talent pitcher, Justin Verlander, kept the Yankees’ bat silenced.
Now silence is all there is left of the Yankees’ season.
For the second time this homestand, Mark Teixeira’s hustle helped the Yankees build a run. The first baseman, not known for his foot speed, hit into the over-shift the Mariners were employing against him, but second baseman Kyle Seager was so deep in right field that Tex has a chance to beat the play at first, which he did for a single as Derek Jeter scored the tying run from third.
Against the Red Sox in the Yankees’ first game of the homestand, Teixeira busted down the line to avoid grounding into an inning-ending double play and kept the inning alive for Raul Ibanez, who followed with a two-run home run. In that case, Tex’s hustle resulted in three runs for the Yankees. No one ever tires of watching players go all-out on the field.
Dave Winfield was the best I ever saw in that regard. The big guy was always in full-throttle mode. He agreed with Joe DiMaggio’s philosophy that somebody in the stands might be seeing him for the first time and he didn’t want that person to think he loafed. Jeter, who grew up a big Winfield fan, is the same way. It was nice to hear Angels rookie center fielder Mike Trout make that point about Jeter last month.
It is a quality that should rub off on more players.
Curtis Granderson received the Heart and Hustle Award from another Yankees center fielder, Mickey Rivers, before Tuesday night’s game at Yankee Stadium. Granderson, the Yankees’ current center fielder, is the team’s representative for the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s annual award to honor active player who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game.
The MLBPAA formed 30 committees comprised of alumni players with established relationships to each club. One player from each major league team is chosen by the committees based on the passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field. As the season draws to a close, fans, all alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner from the 30 team winners.
Previous overall winners were Craig Biggio in 2006 and ’07, Grady Sizemore in 2008, Albert Pujols in 2009, Roy Halladay in 2010 and Torii Hunter in 2011.
The final winner for 2012 will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the 13th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York. The event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, which impact more than 10,000 children each year. Two of my favorite people in the game, Dave Winfield and Rusty Staub, will be honored at this year’s dinner. To purchase tickets for the event, visit http://ow.ly/ch395.
Ichiro Suzuki got right into the swing of things for the Yankees Monday night. Accorded a standing ovation from grateful Mariners fans when he came to bat for the first time as a Yankee in the second inning at Safeco Field, Ichiro lashed a single to center field. Soon after that, he stole second base.
Speed has been an element largely lacking in the Yankees’ offense since mid April when Brett Gardner went on the disabled list because of a wrist injury. Gardner being lost for the rest of the season following surgery prompted Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to make the move for Ichiro. If he proves to have plenty of life left in those 38-year-old legs, Suzuki can be a major addition to the Yankees.
Ichiro wore uniform No. 51 for 12 seasons with the Mariners but recognized that the number is identified strongly with Bernie Williams on the Yankees. The number is not retired, but it has not been given to another player since Williams departed after the 2006 season. Suzuki has chosen to wear No. 31 with the Yankees. Probably the former Yankee mostly associated with that number is Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.
This is the second time a former Mariners player who wore No. 51 in Seattle could not get the number after being traded to the Yankees. The other was pitcher Randy Johnson. Williams was still playing for the Yankees when the Big Unit pitched for them in 2005 and ’06 and had to wear No. 41 instead.
With Ichiro joining Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees are the first team to have three players with more than 2,500 hits since 1928 when the Philadelphia Athletics had Eddie Collins, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker. The year before that, the A’s had Collins, Cobb and Zack Wheat.
Despite all the attention focused on Suzuki Monday night, it was another Japanese-born Yankee who grabbed the spotlight. Hiroki Kuroda tamed the Mariners on one run, three hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in seven innings to win his fourth straight decision. The righthander over his past 11 starts is 7-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 76 innings to lower his season ERA from 4.56 to 3.34.
The Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Mariners and Kevin Millwood ended the four-game losing streak from Oakland. The Yanks were more like themselves with 11 hits, including A-Rod’s 15th home run of the season and career No. 644. Rodriguez also doubled. Mark Teixeira had two doubles and a single and drove in a run. The other runs were driven home by Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Former Yankees managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre were among the baseball people who came to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend. I kidded them that they must be rehearsing for when their time comes for induction. In another two years, both will likely be on the Veterans Committee’s ballot from the Expansion Era for their careers as managers.
Lou was here for both of Sunday’s inductees, Barry Larkin and the late Ron Santo. Larkin was the shortstop on Piniella’s Reds team that won the 1990 World Series in a sweep of the Athletics. During his time as manager of the Cubs, Piniella also became a friend of Santo, the former third baseman who later was a fixture at Wrigley Field as a broadcaster.
Santo died last year, and his widow, Vicki, gave a moving acceptance speech. How she got through it without breaking down was amazing to me. She painted a brilliant picture of the man who was as identified with the Cubs as former teammates Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, who were on hand for the ceremony. They were among the 45 Hall of Famers who attended the ceremony, including Yankees favorites Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Dave Winfield, Phil Niekro and Rickey Henderson.
Larkin told a story about how Piniella addressed the Reds in 1990 before the start of spring training and explained to them that he did not like losing and that he did not intend for this team to lose. Cincinnati won its first nine games that season and went wire to wire to win the National League West, the division the Reds were in before the NL Central was created with realignment in 1994. They defeated the Pirates in the NL Championship Series before sweeping the A’s in the World Series, so Lou kept his promise about not losing.
Larkin was that baseball rarity that played his entire career for his hometown team. I could think of only three other Hall of Famers who did that, and all were Yankees – Lou Gehrig, Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford. Gehrig grew up on the West Side of Manhattan, the Scooter in Brooklyn and Ford in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria, and each spent his entire playing career in the Bronx.
I remember when Paul O’Neill was traded to the Yankees from the Reds in 1993, and a lot of people said that he would have trouble playing in New York. O’Neill, who was also on that ’90 Reds team and like Larkin had grown up in Cincinnati, told me once that he never had any doubts that he would do well in New York. He was not unfamiliar with the city because his sister, Molly, then the food critic for the New York Times, lived there for many years.
“There was a lot more pressure on me playing for the Reds because it was my hometown,” Paulie said. “I never felt that kind of pressure in New York. The fans in New York welcomed me and got behind me early on. I enjoyed the New York experience a lot more than Cincinnati.”
Torre came up for Saturday’s program at Doubleday Field for former teammate Tim McCarver, who was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting alongside Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun as the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for baseball writing. Joe and Timmy were teammates with the Cardinals and have remained good friends over the years.
Among the people McCarver credited for his playing career, which covered four decades from 1959 through 1980, was Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey, a career Yankee. McCarver said that in those pre-draft years of the 1950s that he almost signed with the Yankees because he was so impressed by Dickey but wound up signing with the Cardinals.
“Bill Dickey gave me the greatest piece of advice I ever received for a catcher,” McCarver said. “He told me, ‘Be a pitcher’s friend.’ And I am happy to say that a couple of Hall of Famers who are up on this stage with me have been lifelong friends, Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton.”
The Yankees got revenge for their forefathers Friday by raining all over the Red Sox’ parade on the centennial of Fenway Park’s opening. On that April 20 date in 1912, five days after RMS Titanic perished in the North Atlantic, the Red Sox beat the Highlanders, 7-6, in 11 innings.
The loss extended their season-opening losing streak to six games in what would become the worst season in the history of New York’s American League franchise. Is it any wonder that after a 50-102 record that the club took on a different name, the Yankees, and a different uniform from the one the 2012 version wore to commemorate the Boston yard’s 100th anniversary?
All the pomp and circumstance fell victim to the reality of the Red Sox today, a floundering team that is trying to recover from that September collapse last year with a new manager who already has alienated some players in his own clubhouse. Bobby Valentine heard his share of boos from the Fenway faithful whenever he walked on the field to make pitching changes.
The Yankees have a long history of ruining things for the Red Sox, and the 6-2 victory Friday was the latest. It got off to shaky start for Boston. The Yanks and Red Sox may have worn replica uniforms of the period but not replica equipment. The second baseman’s glove worn by Dustin Pedroia was a lot bigger than that of his 1912 predecessor, Steve Yerkes, but it could not contain Derek Jeter’s leadoff popup that popped out for an error.
A wild pitch by Clay Buchholz put Jeter in scoring position. Alex Rodriguez drove him in from second base with a single to center. After that, the Yankees clouted five home runs off Buchholz, who has been something of a punching bag for them over the year, and got a strong six innings from Ivan Nova to disappoint a Fenway turnout of 36,770.
Buchholz fell to 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA for this season and 2-4 with a 5.84 ERA in his career against the Yankees, who have batted .314 with a .551 slugging percentage off the righthander. Buchholz has allowed 58 hits, including 11 doubles ad and 11 home runs, and 20 walks in 44 2/3 innings against the Yankees.
There was very little of the usual buzz associated with Yankees-Red Sox games. Two home runs by Eric Chavez and one apiece by Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin quieted the crowd. A-Rod’s homer was career No. 631 as he passed former Mariners teammate Junior Griffey for fifth place all-time. Ahead of him is Mount Rushmore: Willie Mays at 660, Babe Ruth at 714, Henry Aaron at 755 and Barry Bonds at 762. The Yankees are starting to muscle up with nine home runs in the past two games.
Jeter singled in the second inning for career hit No. 3,111, pushing him past boyhood idol Dave Winfield into 18th place on the career list. Next up the ladder at 3,141 is another Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn.
Nova ran his winning streak dating to June of last year to 15 games. He gave up seven hits, including a home run by David Ortiz, but did not walk a batter, struck out five and limited Boston to one hit in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position. On a day when Andy Pettitte had another good outing in a minor-league start on his comeback trail, Nova at 3-0 with a 3.79 ERA is giving evidence that he does not intend to be the starting pitcher whom Pettitte will replace.
The Curtis Granderson campaign for the American League Most Valuable Player Award stalled somewhat this month. There has been much talk recently about Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander making a bid to become the first starter in 25 years to win the award. What may help Verlander is that his competition may offset each other because four of them are teammates.
The Red Sox’ recent fade has dampened the once very strong chances for Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury. Similarly, a soft September by Granderson combined with the solid second half by Robinson Cano had the two Yankees perhaps taking votes away from each other.
Despite his impressive totals of runs, runs batted in and home runs, two items have made Granderson’s MVP path bumpy – a low batting average and a high strikeout total. Curtis this month broke the franchise record for strikeouts that had belonged to Alfonso Soriano, and the center fielder’s average has been stuck in the .260s.
While I know that batting average is not as revered a statistic as it once was, it is nevertheless among the ways to gauge a player’s value. Only twice has a position player won the MVP Award with a batting average below .270. The lowest average was the .267 of Cardinals shortstop Marty Marion in 1944, a year when rosters were decimated by World War II service. The lowest for an AL player was the Yankees’ Roger Maris, who hit .269 in 1961 when he won the award for the second straight year, mainly for his then record-setting 61 home runs.
Granderson’s average had fallen to .264 Sept. 16, although he has stepped it up since then and is up to .271 after a 3-for-5 showing in Monday night’s 5-0 victory over the Rays. Over the past three games, Granderson has seven hits in 12 at-bats (.583) with 4 doubles, 1 home run, 7 RBI and 5 runs, which has strengthened his candidacy.
The Yankees caught a big break in the second inning when Brett Gardner was called safe at first base on a bunt play that filled the bases. The Yanks already had a run in that inning against Rays starter Wade Davis on a leadoff double by Nick Swisher and a single by Eric Chavez.
After Russell Martin singled, Gardner dropped a bunt to the right side. Casey Kotchman, one of the game’s top first baseman, pounced on the ball and threw to second baseman Sean Rodriguez, who was a bit late covering first base. First base umpire Scott Barry called Gardner safe on the bang-bang play, although video replays clearly showed that Rodriguez caught the throw before Brett hit the bag.
That’s all right. The Yankees have had plenty of calls go against them. One out later, Granderson cleared the bases with the first of two doubles in the game. In the fifth inning, he picked up his fourth RBI of the game in raising his league-leading total to 119. Curtis has a wide lead in runs scored, and his 41 home runs are topped only by the 42 of Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista.
Speaking of awards campaigns, there is also that of Ivan Nova for the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year trophy. The righthander was accorded a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 46,944 at Yankee Stadium as he came out of the game after 7 2/3 shutout innings in lowering his ERA to 3.62.
Nova improved his season record to 16-4 with his 12th consecutive victory, which tied the team record for rookies that was set by Russ Ford in 1912, the last year that the franchise was known as the Highlanders, and equaled in 1939 by Atley Donald.
Nova was particularly impressive in the seventh after the Rays loaded the bases on a single, a hit batter and a walk with none out by getting out of the jam retiring Desmond Jennings on a fly to shallow left and B.J. Upton on an around-the-horn double play. Tampa Bay was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Nova.
The Yankees didn’t exactly stand out in that category, either. They had a multitude of scoring chances but were only 5-for-20 (.250) in those settings and left a season-high 18 runners on base – in eight innings yet. As it turned out, they had more than enough support for Nova. Too bad he spent most of July in the minors or Nova might be a runaway winner as the league’s top rookie.
Among the Yankees’ 14 hits were two singles by Derek Jeter, who passed Hall of Famer Cap Anson into 19th place on the all-time list with 3,082 career hits. No. 18 on the list with 3,110 is Jeter’s favorite player growing up, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.
The Yankees couldn’t ask for a better time to be running on all cylinders than heading into Boston for a three-game series with first place in the American League East at stake.
The four-game sweep of the White Sox ran the Yankees’ winning streak to seven games and got them even atop the AL East tied with the Red Sox, who lost at Fenway Park to the Indians.
So the hosiery of the Yankees’ opponents goes from pale to rouge, and the AL’s oldest rivalry gets a bit more juice in a series that opens Friday night and continues with games late Saturday afternoon and Sunday night.
The final score of the series finale Thursday night at Chicago – 7-2 – is a tad misleading. It was a one-run game through six innings, a complete turnaround from Wednesday night’s 18-7 rout by the Yankees, who have shown in this stretch that they can win in every possible way.
Thursday night it took pitching as White Sox starter Philip Humber, who one-hit the Yankees earlier this year, was tough once again until he came unglued in the seventh.
Ivan Nova made a strong case to remain in the rotation with 7 2/3 innings in which he gave up one run, six hits and no walks with 10 strikeouts to improve his record to 10-4 with a 3.81 ERA. Think of it; a week ago, this guy was at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
In two starts since his recall last Saturday night, Nova is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. He was shipped out last month to make roster space for Phil Hughes, whose victory Tuesday night was a rain-shortened, seven-inning shutout. It is getting awfully crowded in that rotation.
The Yankees’ offense has come alive in the winning streak during which they have outscored opponents, 63-19. They have batted .351 with 17 doubles, 4 triples and 10 home runs for a .561 slugging percentage. Yankees pitchers have held opponents to a .256 batting average during the streak.
Robinson Cano, who hit his 18th home run, keeps defying the Home Run Derby Winner Jinx that affected so many others. Since the All-Star break, Cano is batting .322 with 7 doubles, 3 homers and 18 RBI in 87 at-bats.
Derek Jeter had five hits Wednesday night, becoming only the second player since 1900 to get five hits in a game at age 37 or older. The other was his boyhood hero, Dave Winfeld, although the Hall of Famer did it with the Angels in 1991.
Now the Yanks need to start showing some muscle against the Red Sox. Boston has had their number this year with eight victories in nine games. There is no better time to start turning that around than now.
Move over, Craig Biggio, and make room for Derek Jeter.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Earlier, I wrote the same lede for a blog when Jeet cracked a home run for his 3,000th hit, matching Hall of Famer Wade Boggs as the only players to do that. Well, Biggio had been the only player to get his 3,000th hit in a five-hit game, and now he is not alone with that distinction.
That was the sort of day Jeter had Saturday at Yankee Stadium. He will have no problem years from now remembering July 9, 2011 because it was one of the best games of his career. One thing everyone agrees about Jeter is that he is all about winning, so the most satisfying of the quintet of hits he had was the single through a drawn-in infield in the eighth inning that scored Eduardo Nunez with the deciding run of a 5-4 victory over the Rays. If DJ had not been thrown out at second base trying to steal for the third out of the inning, it would have been a perfect day.
As it was, the day was magnificent for the Captain. It could not have been much better. A homer for 3-ding-ding, a threat for the cycle, the first five-hit game at the current Stadium all adding up to a Yankees victory. Type a script of this and send it to a Hollywood producer, and it would be torn up with the executive saying, “Now give me something plausible!”
“You don’t need a script,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s already movie-ready.”
“I wouldn’t even believe it,” Jeter said.
Yet it all happened in real life, not a movie. Jeter provided so many highlights in the past at the old Stadium and is doing the same at the new Stadium. The 2009 World Series was a starter, and Saturday was a continuation.
“This has to be number one, the first one to do it for the New York Yankees,” Mariano Rivera said. “When you think that [Babe] Ruth and [Yogi] Berra and [Joe] DiMaggio and [Mickey] Mantle did not do it, all Hall of Famers. I hope he has another one or two thousand more.”
Said Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, “Derek has always played with a relentless, team-first attitude. And that mind-set has helped sustain this organization’s objective of fielding championship-caliber teams year after year. It’s only fitting that he reach 3,000 hits during a victory against one of our American League rivals. Today we celebrate a remarkable individual achievement by one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. On behalf of the entire New York Yankees family, we congratulate Derek on his historic accomplishment.”
A crowd of 48,103 has an indelible memory to cling to, especially a guy from upstate New York named Christian Lopez, who got his hands on the 3,000th-hit home run and didn’t let go of the ball until he handed it to Jeter after the game.
“He actually took it away from his girlfriend, so he has some making up to do,” Jeter said.
After Jeter singled in the first inning, the anticipation so intensified that the dugout became over-populated. It seemed Girardi that everyone on the field level of the Stadium was in the dugout.
“It was like when we had one out to go in the 2009 World Series,” Girardi said. “The dugout was packed. He really knows how to do it, a big-time guy in the big moment.”
Waiting for Jeter as he crossed the plate was close buddy Jorge Posada, the first to hug the 28th member of baseball’s 3,000 Hit Club.
“It was very spontaneous,” Posada said. “I told him I was proud of him. I was so happy for him that I got emotional. He looks forward to things like this. There is nobody better in the clutch. You guys saw that in post-season play.”
“The best thing is how he prepares himself day in and day out,” said Rivera, who was able to chalk up his 22nd save by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth after Jeter’s eighth-inning single put the Yankees back into the lead. “To be honest, I was expecting a triple.”
That was the hit Jeter needed for the cycle. He had doubled in the fifth. To Jeter, the best part of the fifth hit was the RBI attached to it.
“It would have been awful to be out there on the field after the game being interviewed and waving to the crowd if we had lost,” Jeter said.
The Captain opened up a bit after the game, admitting that his answers to questions leading up to 3,000 hits were not entirely truthful, particularly those with regard to the pressure he felt about getting the milestone hit at Yankee Stadium.
“I have been lying to you, saying there was no pressure, but I felt a lot of pressure trying to do it here,” Jeter told reporters. “It would not have felt right if it happened somewhere else. I’m pretty happy the way it went.”
Jeter also said he changed his approach at the plate somewhat since coming off the disabled list earlier this week and was not as patient. He walked one time in five games. Jeter battled Rays lefthander David Price in the first inning running the count to 3-2 before hitting a single off a 95-mph fastball.
“He could have thrown the ball in the dugout, and I’d have swung at it,” Jeter said.
Price tried something different in the third when the count to Jeter again went to 3-2. He threw a curve that Jeter drove into baseball history. Price, the runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award in 2010, is a very quality pitcher to have given up a 3,000th hit. Only one player, Dave Winfield, Jeter’s favorite growing up, got his 3,000th off a future Hall of Famer, Dennis Eckerlsey, in 1993. The only Cy Young Award winner other than Eck to give up a 3,000th career hit was Frank Viola, to Rod Carew in 1985.
“I knew [left fielder Matt Joyce] wasn’t going to catch it,” Jeter said, “but I didn’t think it was going out. To be honest, I was relieved.”
DJ said he had never envisioned what the 3,000th hit would be and that “I didn’t care as long as [a fielder] didn’t catch it. I just didn’t want it to be a slow roller that they would replay forever.”
Knowing Jeter, he would like that game-winner in the eighth to be replayed alongside No. 3,000.