Derek Jeter is a baseball legend. Even if you didn’t root for the New York Yankees shortstop during his Hall-of-Fame 20-year career, you have to admit “The Captain” is one of the most classy, well-respected and talented players in Major League Baseball history.
Jeets was more than the captain of the Yankees or the best shortstop of his generation. He is one of the greatest players to ever step on a diamond, and he did it for the most storied franchise in all of professional sports. Jeter’s name carries the same weight as fellow Cooperstown inductees Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and teammate Mariano Rivera. Even people who don’t know how many outs there are in an inning knew Derek Freakin’ Jeter.
From the minute he donned pinstripes on as a 21-year-old rookie in 1995 until he played his final game in the Bronx, Jeter was a legendary figure that only comes around so often. He hit .310, slugged 260 home runs and tallied 3,465 career hits, the sixth-most in baseball history. He won five World Series and played in 14 All-Star Games. Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger awards were common for the man whose No. 2 was retired by the Yankees.
“Mr. November” was a postseason machine as well. He holds 10 MLB all-time playoff records, including hits (200), runs scored (111) and games played (158). Yes, Jeter played almost a full season’s worth of playoff games over the course of his career.
Jeter’s produced more iconic plays than one can count. From “The Jeter” jump throw deep in the hole at shortstop to the all-out dive into the crowd to catch a foul pop-up to “The Flip Play” against the Oakland Athletics in the 2001 American League Division Series, Jeter could do it all in the field.
Yankees fans know Jeter’s real prowess was at the plate, though. He could turn on balls for home runs or use his patented inside-out swing to shoot pitches to the opposite field. Jeter was the definition of clutch, and he proved it day in and day out.
With a career full of highlight-reel catches and more than 3,000 hits to his name, let’s take a look at Jeter’s 10 most iconic moments, including his unforgettable walk-off farewell in his final home game.
Derek Jeter’s 10 Greatest Plays
10. Jeter’s Fan-Aided Home Run in 1996 ALCS (Oct. 9, 1996)
The Yankees were down 4-3 to the Orioles in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series. Who better to call on for a clutch hit than their captain?
The 1996 AL Rookie of the Year lifted a fly ball to right field that Orioles right field Tony Tarasco looked to be camped under. That’s when 12-year-old fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the fence and snagged it. Umpire Rich Garcia controversially ruled it a home run despite the fan interference, which tied the game at 4-4. New York won the game on Bernie Williams’ walk-off homer in the 11th and the Yankees went on to win the series and eventually the World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
9. The Jump-Throw in the 1998 ALCS (Oct. 6, 1998)
Young baseball players across the country imitated this signature play growing up. Jeter showcased the back-handed jump-throw from the hole in Game 1 of the 1998 ALCS when he robbed Cleveland Indians’ Travis Fryman of a single.
It was amazing. It was iconic. But for Jeter, whose jersey was already covered in dirt, it was routine.
8. Jeter’s Final Career Hit (Sept. 28, 2014)
Jeter notched 343 hits against the Boston Red Sox over his career and, ironically enough, he beat out an infield single to third base at Fenway Park for the final hit of his career in his last game ever.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi removed Jeter from the game after the hit, which concluded his 20th and final season in the bigs. Jeter received a thunderous ovation in front of thousands of fans of the team considered his bitter rival.
7. “The Dive” Against the Red Sox (July 1, 2004)
It wasn’t in the playoffs, but Jeter gave up all regard for his body when he dove head-first into the stands to catch a foul pop-up against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in 2004. Jeter’s face was busted up, but he made the catch.
The Yankees were holding on to a 7.5-game lead over the Red Sox and the dive helped them win the game. Jeter’s catch on Trot Nixon’s foul ball in the 12th inning kept the game tied 4-4 and the Yankees went on to win, 5-4, in 13 innings.
6. Jeter Passes Gehrig as Yankees Hit King (Sept. 11, 2009)
On the eight-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Jeter gave Yankees fans in the Bronx something to cheer about. Jeter roped a single in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles, giving him 2,722 career hits.
That broke Lou Gehrig’s franchise mark of 2,721 career hits that stood for 71 years. On that day in 2009, Jeter became the Yankees’ all-time hits king, a title that may not be stolen away for a long time.
5. Jeter’s Walk-Off Farewell in Final Home Game (Sept. 25, 2014)
You couldn’t have written a better script for Jeter’s final at-bat in the Bronx. Bottom of the ninth inning. Score tied at 5-5. Man on second, one out. All Jeter needed was an RBI single off Baltimore Orioles reliever Evan Meek.
Jose Pirela singled to leadoff the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brett Gardner. Then Jeter stepped to the plate and lined a first-pitch fastball from Meek past the first baseman into right field to score pinch-running Antoan Richardson. Like that, hit No. 3,463 was magical.
Jeter rounded first base jumping up and down like he wasn’t 40 years old at the time. He was met by a Gatorade shower from his current teammates while former teammates and coaches like Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Tino Martinez met him on field in front of the Yankees dugout.
The tear-jerking moment almost never happened. After a seventh-inning fielder’s choice that knocked in a run, he tipped his cap one last time. But in the top of the ninth, Orioles hitters Steve Pearce and Adam Jones each launched homers off David Robertson to tie the game and give Jeter one final at-bat and his shot at a walk-off single in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium.
4. Jeter Crushes Home Run for Hit No. 3000 (July 9, 2011)
Everything this guy did seemed like something out of Hollywood. Jeter’s 3,000th hit flew into the stands beyond left field in Yankee Stadium off Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price. Jeter finished the game 5-for-5 and the Yankees won, 5-4.
With the memorable home run, Jeter became the 28th player in Major League history to eclipse 3,000 career hits.
3. “The Flip” In The 2001 ALDS (Oct. 13, 2001)
So iconic. This is the one play I remember when I think of Derek Jeter. The Yankees were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning of Game 3 of the 2001 American League Division Series against the Oakland A’s.
Athletics’ Terrence Long ripped a double to right that Jeremy Giambi was trying to score on. Yankees right fielder Shane Spencer overthrew the cutoff men in front of him. For whatever reason, Jeter raced all the way over to the first base line to intercept the errant throw and flip it to catcher Jorge Posada for the out at home. It was about the most unconventional play ever, but somehow Jeter found a way to keep the Yankees lead.
2. Jeter’s Leadoff HR in Game 4 of 2000 World Series (Oct. 25, 2000)
Jeter’s playoff resume was so long that there figured to be enormous moments in the World Series. He clobbered 20 postseason home runs, one of which was to lead off the game against the New York Mets in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series.
In a battle known as the Subway Series, Jeter sucked the life out of Shea Stadium by cranking a leadoff blast off Mets pitcher Bobby Jones. It was the 16th leadoff homer in World Series history. More importantly, it helped the Yankees win, 3-2, and take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series that they wouldn’t relinquish. They won the next game to win the Fall Classic thanks to another home run from you know who — the 2000 World Series MVP.
1. “Mr. November” Crushes World Series Walk-Off Homer (Oct. 31, 2001)
Play-by-play broadcast Joe Buck had just announced that the clock struck midnight, meaning postseason baseball was about to be played in November for the first time ever. That’s when “Mr. November” earned his moniker.
Jeter swatted a walk-off home run to right field off Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Byung-Hyun Kim in the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. The Yankees won, 4-3, but fell in seven games on Luis Gonzalez’s walk-off single off Mariano Rivera.
Hats off to Derek Jeter’s career. There won’t ever be a Hall of Famer like No. 2.
This article was originally published January 21, 2020. We brought it back the day Jeter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.