07/12/11 1:33 PM ET
Jeter impresses on and off the field
By / MLB.com
I can't speak for active players, but as a former player, I can tell you that I couldn't be more impressed by the feat, and there is not just one single reason I am so impressed. Forget the fact that it is a ton of hits -- look at how he did it.
First of all, he did it in one uniform -- that might be the most impressive part of the whole thing. In today's culture, players change teams as often as they change clothes, chasing the almighty dollar. For Jeter to stay in New York for his entire career is a testament to not only his loyalty, but the loyalty of the Yankees.
Jeter had the chance to leave as free agent this past offseason, but made no bones about the fact New York was the only place he wanted to play. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made some comments in the offseason that had "the Boss" still been with us, I don't think he would have made. The one that stood out the most to me was when he said Jeter should test the market. Had Steinbrenner still been with us, I think Cashman would have been the one testing the market.
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For all the negative things people had to say about George Steinbrenner during his time as owner of the Yankees, the one thing that got overlooked most was the fact that he was fiercely loyal to the players who represented and grew his brand.
The second thing that makes this so impressive is that Jeter accomplished it in New York. For an organization that has had countless Hall of Famers play in the pinstripes, none of them had accomplished 3,000 career hits in a Yankees uniform.
Third, and what I consider most impressive, is the fact that with all the different forms of media today, you never hear anything bad about the man. Jeter is what every professional athlete should aspire to be -- a solid human being. He is proof that you can be a great athlete and not act like you are better than anyone.
I had never met Derek before the 2009 World Series. I was on the field with MLB Network, and I will be honest -- I really wanted to meet him. But I didn't want to be a pest. Well, he made it simple. He came over, shook my hand and said hello.
So to Derek, I say congrats, and thank you for being the kind of ballplayer I can say to my five kids: "That is how it is supposed to be done."
Just because you are blessed with the ability to play a sport doesn't give you the right to act superior to anyone. And to anyone who thinks Jeter can't play anymore, consider that hit No. 3,000 was a home run on a 5-for-5 day. No one will have to tell Derek when it's time to retire. He has way too much pride to play beyond that point. He will simply say, "I can't do it well enough anymore."
And if it happens in two years or five years, Jeter will make that decision. No one else.
Mitch Williams is a studio analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.