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Jeter further cements his amazing legacy

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Derek Jeter has now done something that no other player in the illustrious history of the New York Yankees has ever done.

Think about that for a second.

For a franchise that has trotted out the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, amongst other numerous Hall of Famers, it is an organization that has never had a player reach 3,000 hits.

That is until Saturday afternoon, when Derek Sanderson Jeter became the first Yankee to reach the plateau, smoking a third-inning homer to left field off Tampa Bay starter David Price.

While four members of the 3,000-hit club played for the Yankees at some point in their careers -- Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Paul Waner and Dave Winfield -- Jeter becomes the first to achieve the feat while wearing pinstripes.

Derek Jeter
While four members of the 3,000-hit club played for the Yankees at some point in their careers, Derek Jeter becomes the first to achieve the feat while wearing pinstripes.
The milestone, though, is just the latest in a long line of accolades for Jeter, perhaps the most beloved New York athlete since the Jets' Joe Namath, and maybe the most cherished Yankee since Mickey Mantle.

With all due respect to the late great Thurman Munson and Don Mattingly, I think El Capitan has them beat.

It's funny that after 16-plus years of hearing that Jeter's worth on the field has been his intangibles, the things that don't show up in the box score, he is now being honored like no other for a personal, statistical accomplishment.

For a player that has been pretty guarded throughout his career, Jeter seemed to have embraced the moment. He has even let an HBO documentary crew film the events and hoopla leading up to it.

When you hear his name you think of his countless clutch plays, whether it's the Jeffrey Maier home run, the flip in Oakland, the dive into the stands against Boston, or of course his Mr. November home run in the 2001 World Series.

His numbers are never bandied about because, while they are freakishly consistent, they really don't stand out. As adored as he is in New York and despite the fact that he has been the face of the game since he became a regular in 1996, he is always mentioned with the most overrated players in the league. Not to mention he has been called the worst defensive shortstop in the game.

Sure, he's never won a batting title, or an MVP award, but overrated? Really? Are you paying attention at all?

Is it jealousy? Perhaps. I mean it's probably pretty cool being Derek Jeter. He is a kajillionaire playing for the most storied franchise in all of sports in the biggest and brightest city on the planet. Plus the laundry list of his accomplishments off the field arguably rivals what he has done on it.

Not to turn this into a TMZ article, but among others, Jeter has been linked to countless supermodels and Hollywood actresses. Mariah Carey in her prime. Scarlett Johansson. Jessica Alba. Vanessa Minnillo. Jessica Biel. Minka Kelly.

My friends, that is what Charlie Sheen would call winning.

You can argue all you want that Jeter is overrated, but I doubt anyone who does watched him on a regular basis during his heyday.

While it may not be the most exclusive group in the game -- there have been just 20 pitchers who have thrown perfect games and only 15 have pulled off the unassisted triple play -- you can make the argument that Jeter becoming the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club will go down as the most celebrated milestone ever.

For one, it's New York. And two, it's Jeter, perhaps the most marketable athlete in sports today; maybe ever, given where he plays.

Oh and if you don't believe me, remind me when I can catch Craig Biggio's HBO documentary, or Cal Ripken's for that matter.

In addition to the over-the-top celebration at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, I fully expect Major League Baseball to go out of its way to honor Jeter at some point on Tuesday during the All-Star Game.

This isn't the time to debate where Jeter ranks in connection with the all- time Yankee greats. When it's all said and done he may not sit at the big table with Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, or even Berra, but he's now the only one in the room who can boast that he has 3,000 hits.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

Follow Chris Ruddick on Twitter and Facebook.

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