Jeter Reaches 3,000 Hits With Home Run
Jeter is the active leader in hits and the first player to collect his 3,000th since Craig Biggio of Houston in 2007. He is also the first to achieve the milestone at Yankee Stadium, old or new, and the fourth youngest player to do it. Only Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Robin Yount joined the club at a younger age than Jeter, who turned 37 on June 26.
Jeter accomplished it all without playing anywhere but shortstop, the most physically demanding position on the field besides catcher. Only three other players, Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken Jr. and Yount, have recorded 3,000 hits while playing most of their careers at shortstop.
Like Ripken and Yount, Jeter has never won a batting title. But he has twice been the runner-up, churning out hits at a rate few have ever matched. Jeter has seven 200-hit seasons, and 10 with at least 190. Only Pete Rose and Cobb, who rank first and second on the career hits list, have more 190-hit seasons.
Jeter's pace has slowed the last two seasons. In 2010 he hit .270, the lowest average of his career and a rare bit of bad timing. The sharp drop in performance did not stop Jeter from getting a three-year, $51 million contract, but the Yankees gave it grudgingly, publicly questioning his skills and challenging him to explore free agency.
Jeter tried an adjustment in the off-season and during spring training, eliminating his stride to give himself more time to react to the pitch. But he abandoned it soon after the season started, reverting to his old mechanics, without his old results.
After a two-hit game in Cleveland on Wednesday lifted his average to .257, Jeter — a .314 career hitter before this season — acknowledged that the scrutiny of his struggles had taken some fun from the chase for 3,000. He has little experience with bad press; few athletes in his era have received such overwhelmingly positive coverage in their careers.
"It's kind of hard to enjoy it when there's a lot of negativity that's out there," Jeter said. "Hopefully, I might be able to enjoy it the next few days."
The Cleveland series ended with Jeter needing three hits for 3,000, and the Yankees headed back to the Bronx. Jeter closed the old Yankee Stadium with a stirring speech to the crowd in 2008, and helped christen the new version with a championship in 2009.
He also passed Lou Gehrig that season for the franchise record in hits, with 2,722. It was a stirring moment, even if it had little resonance outside Yankee Stadium. With 3,000 hits, Jeter has matched a revered number in the game's history, and left an indelible mark.