“We just want to win. That's the bottom line. I think a lot of times people may become content with one championship or a little bit of success, but we don’t really reflect on what we’ve done in the past. We focus on the present.”
These expressive words were uttered by none other than Derek Jeter, the 10-year captain of the New York Yankees who turns 38 Tuesday.
Jeter, who is in the middle of his 18th season in the MLB, is a player with a lifetime of achievements and awe-inspiring moments. Why not celebrate his birthday by making a list of the top 10?
10) Earning the Nickname “Mr. November” (11/1/2001)
Almost all superstar athletes have a nickname, and Jeter’s just happens to have significant value. It was the bottom of the tenth in a 3-3 game 4 of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Jeter came up to bat. The playoffs as a whole had previously been pushed back as a result of the 9/11 attacks, so the extra innings game, which began Halloween night, had extended to the month of November. On a 3-2 pitch, Jeter hit a walk-off homerun to become the first player in history to hit a home run in November.
9) Being A 2-Time Hank Aaron Award Winner (2006, 2009)
Given annually to the best hitter in each league, the Hank Aaron Award was given to Jeter in 2006 and 2009. Posting over 200 hits in both years, Jeter became one of only a handful of players to be a two-time recipient of the award, which is voted upon by media and fans.
8) Being A 5-Time Gold Glove Award Winner (2004-2006, 2009-2010)
Given annually to the best fielders in the MLB, the Gold Glove Award, which is voted upon by managers and coaches in the league was given to Jeter five times. By receiving the honor five times, Jeter becomes part of an elite group of shortstops including Omar Vizquel.
7) Passing Lou Gehrig For Most Hits As A Yankee (9/11/2009)
Lou Gehrig is one of those baseball players that seems to be untouchable, yet Jeter was able to disprove this assumption and break one of his most impressive records of collecting 2,721 hits with the Yankees. In fact, as discussed below, Jeter has gone on to demolish this record, currently having 400 more hits than Gehrig did with the Yankees. Jeter tops this all-time list with baseball royalty including Gehrig, Babe Ruth, and Mickey Mantle.
6) Receiving Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year” (2009)
Annually, Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year” is awarded to “the athlete or team whose performance that year most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.” In 2009, after winning the World Series, Jeter received the honor, joining an select group of all-star athletes including Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan, and Arthur Ashe.
5) Being A 12-Time AL All-Star (1998-2002, 2004, 2006-2011, and almost certainly 2012)
There is no better feeling than to be selected to the All-Star game by your fans, fellow players, and coaches. Although being voted in 12 times certainly does suggest the amount of respect he has in the MLB, his statistics consistently earn him a spot in the Midsummer Classic. This year, for example, he is putting up very good numbers, batting .304 with an on base percentage (OBP) of .353. Over his career, he has an average of .313 with an OBP of .382.
4) Being A 5-Time World Series Champion (1996, 1998-2000, 2009) & A World Series MVP (2000)
Every athlete, regardless of the sport he or she plays, dreams of one day being a champion. Jeter is certainly just that, having one the World Series, the championship of baseball, 5 times with the Yankees, most recently in 2009. He was even named the MVP of the 2000 World Series. Over his career, he has a .307 playoff batting average.
3) Diving Into The Stands Against Boston (7/1/2004)
Probably the most iconic defensive play that Jeter has ever had was diving into the stands against the Boston Red Sox in an extra-inning game in ’04. If 4 World Series rings (at that point) was not enough to convince somebody of his determination and grit, this single play was.
2) Jeter Hits His 3,000 Career Hit (7/9/2011)
On July 9, 2011, Jeter became the most recent player to reach the milestone of 3,000 hits in a career. Only 27 had previously achieved this feat, and Jeter did it with such gusto, hitting a home run off of David Price on an otherwise outstanding game, batting 5-5. He is the only active player in the club, and is currently 15th on the list, only 3 behind Cal Ripken Jr. as of this writing.
1) Named Yankee Captain (2003)
Although many of these feats and moments could have taken the top spot on the list, but in my opinion, being the on-the-field captain and off-the-field leader of the most dominant franchise in all of the sports takes the cake. One of only two captains currently in the MLB (Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox), Jeter is truly a class act.
Happy Birthday, Derek.