(Long Island, N.Y.) When he became the 23rd member of baseball’s 3,000 hit club on August 7th, 1999, Wade Boggs also knew that a former teammate would one day join him in the elite group.
“I had the opportunity to play with Derek (Jeter) when he was a rookie in 1996 and I had no doubts that (he) would reach this milestone,” the Hall of Fame third baseman said after Jeter did in fact confirm that. “He is a very consistent player and he never deviated from his game. When you stay healthy and you are consistent and compile a lengthy career like Derek has done, you have the opportunity to reach that 3,000th hit plateau.”
Although it seemed like an inevitable accomplishment once he was close, Jeter skipped knocking on the door by blowing it wide open. The Yankee captain went 5-for-5 on Saturday at the Stadium in a 5-4 win against the Tampa Bay Rays and it was his third inning home run off David Price that was the money shot. Not resting on his laurels, Jeter then hit an eighth inning single for the game winner in an important divisional game two days before the All-Star break.
These contributions were certainly not lost on Hal Steinbrenner. “Derek has always played with a relentless, team-first attitude,” the Yankees managing general partner said. “And that mindset 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.”
More importantly than becoming the 28th Major League player to join the club, Jeter is now the first Yankee to become a part of it. Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield and Paul Waner (along with Boggs) have played for the organization but collected their 3,000th hit elsewhere.
The list is dotted with some of the game’s greatest names and it is nearly unfathomable that Jeter is the first one to do it in pinstripes. Some of them chimed in afterwards, with Cal Ripken Jr. calling Jeter “such a large part of the Yankees very rich history” and “a great player for a long time.”
Robin Yount recalled how it felt then and now. “It wasn’t until my career ended did I realize how special it was to reach 3,000 hits,” the former Milwaukee Brewer standout said, “based on how few people had done it. I am more proud of playing as long as I did, than anything. My hits total was the culmination of playing 20 years and being healthy enough to do so.”
“To have the most hits for the most prestigious franchise in all of sports is pretty special,” Paul Molitor said. “If Derek stays healthy, he has a good chance to rack up a lot more hits.”
Only five players have ever amassed 3,500 hits, with the top two even eclipsing 4,000. Pete Rose (4,256) and Ty Cobb (4,191) occupy the penthouse on the list and Jeter has a long way to go to get that high. But no one would be surprised if he does.