Jeter passes Iron Horse in Stadium hits
Captain collects 1,270th knock at Cathedral, now first all-time
NEW YORK -- When Yankees captain Derek Jeter entered the 2008 season, he had no idea how close he was to passing Lou Gehrig's all-time hit record at Yankee Stadium.
But the fans knew.
Once the Yankees returned to the Bronx for their final regular-season homestand at the Cathedral, screams and cheers louder than usual accompanied Jeter to the plate. Before each of the shortstop's at-bats, fans stood on their feet, yelling out the number of hits remaining for him to match Gehrig.
And Tuesday night, Jeter again learned from the fans that he had surpassed the Yankees legend, becoming the sole owner of the most hits all-time at Yankee Stadium.
In his first at-bat of the evening, he ripped a ground ball toward left field. It passed through White Sox third baseman Juan Uribe's legs, and Jeter safely reached first base as the ball deflected into left field.
But he couldn't be sure that it was a hit. While all other eyes remained fixed on the scoreboard, Jeter didn't look at it. But when he heard the screams from the crowd, he knew the record was his, and he tipped his cap to the standing ovation. And the fans weren't the only ones on their feet, as Jeter's teammates rose from the dugout to cheer on their captain.
"I did notice," Jeter said. "I got a chance to look around and see. I really appreciate it. There's so much history at Yankee Stadium, and just to be a part of it is something special.
"I definitely appreciate everything the fans have done. They've been great my entire career. It makes you feel real good."
The historic achievement came on a somewhat disappointing night for Jeter, though, as it couldn't help the Yankees overcome the White Sox in a 6-2 loss. He said it was hard for him to truly enjoy his accomplishment at the moment because the team result wasn't what he wanted. But he tried to keep in mind some advice he received from his parents Monday night.
"They were saying, 'You need to sit back and try to enjoy it while it's happening,'" he said. "Because I'm always thinking about how we can win and things like that. But this is pretty special. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't."
Jeter has stood out as the face of the Yankees' organization for years, and it was no more apparent than the past weekend. Fans stood up each time the shortstop walked to the plate, pushing him closer to the record.
He needed nine hits entering the homestand to tie Gehrig, and he reeled of three hits in three straight games to accomplish the feat. Jeter recalled that his at-bat following the record-tying hit was probably the first time he'd been cheered hitting into a double play. But the reaction from the fans didn't surprise manager Joe Girardi.
"He's a true Yankee," Girardi said. "I think he embodies what baseball people want to see in a player. He goes about his business the right way. He stays out of the headlines. He just does a lot of great things. He's important to the community, he gives back all the time, to children -- to everyone. He's what you want to see in a person.
"He doesn't look for the accolades, he doesn't look for the attention. He just wants to play and he loves what he does. And you can see it by the way he plays the game. He loves to play this game and he plays it to win every day."
The home crowd was forced to wait in anticipation before the celebratory cheers could take over Yankee Stadium, as official scorer Bill Shannon took the time to check the replay before scoring it as an official hit.
"Given the historical significance of the situation, I wanted to confirm what I thought I had seen in real time," Shannon said. "Under normal conditions, I probably would not have waited for the replay -- I would have just called what I saw."
What Shannon thought he saw was that Uribe was playing in on the edge of the grass, so when he went down to grab the sharp grounder, he didn't have much time.
"What I thought was that the ball skidded a little bit, it took a little cut," he said. "It didn't take a true bounce, it stayed down and it came back toward him a little bit, and it wasn't where he expected it to be, and he couldn't stop it."
Jeter left no doubt when he connected for his second hit of the night in the fifth inning, sending the crowd into a further frenzy. Teammate Andy Pettitte enjoyed watching Jeter make history, only wishing that he could have sent him away with a victory as well.
"It was awesome -- I'm proud for him," Pettitte said. "I wish we were able to win this game on a special night like that. What can you say? He's a great player and he's getting it done for us right now when things aren't going real good. It's a sign of a leader and a sign of a great champion."
And Jeter has left his mark for good at the Cathedral. With the final year at Yankee Stadium coming to a close, he can leave knowing that this is one record that will never be broken.
Samantha Newman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.