Losing a great from the game always makes one look back through history. There are multiple ways to lose a great, in this case we have the retirement of Derek Jeter. Fans of the Yankees all the way through fanatics of the Red Sox will all agree that Jeter has a special place in the game of baseball and its history. What exact place does he have though? Is he the greatest shortstop of all time? Is he the greatest Yankee of all time? Or is he merely the greatest Yankee shortstop of all time?
Derek has numbers to compete with all the other greats of all time. Ernie Banks, Honus Wagner, and Cal Ripken Jr are the names that come to mind when placing the "Greatest of All Time" moniker. Jeter was not the most powerful hitter of all the shortstops. He also was not the fastest runner. He was not the best fielder. Jeter separates himself with his leadership and pure passion for the game.
Shortstops are considered the quarterback of the baseball field. The greatest quarterbacks of all time are judged on their leadership and how that leadership translates into championships. Jeter has lead his Yankees, and make no mistake about it, they are HIS Yankees, to five World Series titles. From memorable homeruns against the Orioles in 1996 to an unbelievable defensive gem against the Athletics in 2001, Jeter has seemingly willed his team to multiple championships over his career. Mr. November has earned the name with a .351 post season batting average.
Jeter is a kid on the field playing the game he loves every single day he got the opportunity. Derek would play just as happily in front of 100 fans as he would 100,000 fans. The situation and moment never got bigger than Jeter. His smile was brighter than the lights at Yankee Stadium. The impressive part, Jeter would never be the one to tell you how great he is or the things he has accomplished. Jeter is without an ego, and in the game today that is extremely hard to find. He was just a man, a player, that refused to allow anything get the better of him. The best example of this was his 3,000 hit, in Yankee Stadum, that was absolutely perfect. The homerun to tied the game, when he went a five for five day. The hit was off David Price, the best left-handed pitcher in the American League.
When he came to home plate, he floated to the dish and embraced his longtime teammate, Jorge Posada. His respect for the game and its history is unrivaled. When the great Bob Sheppard passed away, Jeter would not allow another announcer to introduce him when coming to the plate for an at bat. Jeter would have a recording of Sheppard played over the PA system at Yankee Stadium. "Shortstop. Number Two. Derek Jeter. Number Two." There is no better example of a nameless jersey, yet everyone knows exactly who he is.
Off the field, Jeter is just as impressive and unnoticed as on the field. He is not in the news. He is always out of the spotlight while at the same time supporting the team and the community. To live your entire professional career in New York City and not get caught in the hype is one of Jeter's most enduring qualities. If you look up role model in the dictionary there is a picture of Derek Jeter. There is not a parent out there that would be opposed to their child saying, "I want to be like Derek Jeter."
Is Derek Jeter the greatest shortstop of all time? I think a more appropriate question to answer is, who would you rather have at shortstop?
Class. Honor. Drive. Poise. Confidence. Stoic. Dedication. Teammate. Role model. Humble. Excellence. Pride. Respect. Determination. Captain.....Derek Jeter.
Written By: Nic Amanno
Be sure to like us on Facebook at MLB Insiders for your MLB news and information all season long.