As a baseball fan, Jeter’s 3000th hit was memorable and meaningful. As a Mets fan, I could have done without hearing about it all day long and now, all week. But I was curious to hear how a Yankees fan felt about this. My friend Kelly offered to contribute the following post to this blog. Kelly and I were roommates in college, and though our sports teams didn’t quite align, there was always a mutual respect for the game itself. Miss you, Kel, and thanks for the awesome post:
As a New Yorker living in the south, I get a lot of crap when people find out I’m a Yankees fan. Most people around here support the Braves (although Baltimore is geographically closer). I’ve been on many a first (and last) date where the guy will make some smart ass comment about how I’m a bandwagon fan, or of course I “pick” the team with the biggest payroll.
You can’t pick your family, and maybe when it comes to sports I was lucky enough to be born with a silver glove on my hand. But that’s how I was raised. From my great-grandfather down, my family bleeds pinstripes. We love baseball, and we root for the Yankees.
Our bond over the Yankees is illustrated through the events that unfolded on Saturday, July 9th. The day captain Derek Jeter entered the history books by being the 28th player in baseball history to reach 3000 hits in his career, and being only the 2nd player to make that hit a home run.
I was at a cookout/pool party with my friends when my cell phone rang. I saw it was my father and answered. He told me that Jeter just hit 3000, and did it with a home run. I squealed, walked off into the yard a bit so I wasn’t disrupting my friends (athletes they may be, they don’t share my passion for baseball) and listened to him fill me in on the details. When we hung up, I immediately called my brother, who was in the process of driving back to North Carolina with my mother and stepfather from my hometown in NY, to share the exciting news with him. We texted back and forth, and it was decided that my family in transit would stop at my house first on their way home.
In an hour or so, I was watching the end of the game with my father. We watched Jeter go 5/5, hitting in the game winning run with his last at bat. A few minutes after the game ended, the rest of my family pulled up outside my house. We watched the recaps and interviews together (while I munched on the wonderful bread and baked goods they delivered from my hometown bakery). My uncle, who lives a few hours away, called my father, and they laughed and shared the pride and excitement of the day together. We were there together, a family.
My father’s eyes filled with tears as he recounted the interview of the man who caught the ball. He was a mobile phone salesman from the same part of NY as us. Catching that ball could, and may, be a life changing event for Christian Lopez, but his concern wasn’t money or fame, it was making sure that Derek got the ball. A absolutely classy response for one of the great class acts in baseball – Derek Jeter.
In a world where professional athletes switch teams every time a contract expired, Jeter has been with the Yankees his entire professional career, since his MLB debut in 1995. He has led the team as their captain since 2003. How fitting that he, the perfect Yankee, be the first of the franchise to reach the 3000 hit benchmark.
That day, that moment, reminded me of how lucky I am, and everything I have to be thankful for. I’m grateful that I was born a Yankees fan. I have Derek Jeter to admire as an example of what an athlete should be. I am thankful for my family, and together we take pride in our team and that one amazing moment, one that I will one day share with my children and grandchildren, as we gather together to watch baseball.