Five years ago today, Derek Jeter recorded five hits. One of them was a bit more monumental than the other four. On July 9, 2011, also a Saturday afternoon, Jeter launched a David Price breaking ball over the left field wall, and entered the hit column for the 3,000th time.
Jeter became the first ever to record hit number 3,000 in pinstripes, a remarkable feat given the deep history and tradition of the Yankees. He also joined former teammate Wade Boggs as the only player to go deep for their 3,000th hit. The most recent member of the elite group, current Yankee Alex Rodriguez, joined the two former Yankees when he homered for hit number 3,000.
Of course, his 3,000th hit alone was not enough to satisfy Jeter. The team had to win the game for the day to be considered a success in his eyes, despite already making baseball history. So Jeter made sure no damper would be put on his day.
After starting the day with 2,998 hits, Jeter finished with 3,003, with his final hit of the afternoon serving as the game winner. His RBI grounder up the middle gave the Yankees a 5-4 eighth inning lead, which Mariano Rivera would protect to ensure his longtime teammate left the field a happy man.
Not only was Jeter happy to help the team win, he also felt a sense of relief. In rare form, Jeter would admit after the game that the pressure of reaching 3,000 was indeed weighing on him, especially given his slumps leading up to number 3,000. With only two games left on the homestand, and facing Tampa Bay's best starters in Price and James Shields, Jeter was feeling the heat to make history in the Bronx.
Any sense of pressure on Jeter disappeared into the stands with his 3,000th hit. As a sold out Yankee Stadium crowd erupted and delayed the game for four minutes to pay tribute to the newest member of the exclusive hit club, Jeter saw it as an opportunity to get back to work.
With the heavy anticipation behind him, Jeter would bat .345 in the final two months of the regular season, and helped lead the Yankees to another first place finish in the AL East. Still, the highlight of the season was Jeter’s dramatic entrance into a hit club comprised of only 28 other players in major league history.
Never regarded as a major power threat, Jeter’s 3,000th hit was a no-doubter to left field that cleared the fence at exactly 2 pm, matching the number on the back of his jersey, which will never be worn again with Yankee pinstripes. Quite the contrast to his 2,000th career hit back in 2006, an infield single that never made it past the pitcher's mound. This time, Jeter didn't have to bust it to first base to earn a hit. Instead, he could take a light jog and soak in the moment that he will never forget.
Jeter ended his illustrious career with 3,465 hits, good for sixth all time. Number 3,000 certainly has a case for the most memorable of them all.