Mandel’s Musings: Jeter’s 20-Year Career Seemed to Fly By Like the Blink of an Eye

Published on: 1st May, 2014

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derek jeter in 1995New York — It seemed like yesterday that the young pony of a shortstop was galloping onto Legends Field in Tampa, where the Yankees spend their spring training season. The youngster, Derek Jeter, was as thin as a reed, raw but talented, and was in camp only to get a quick look-see from the Yankee brass, who felt comfortable back in 1995 with the shortstop position firmly in the hands of Tony Fernandez, the former all-star who had had so many great years playing in Toronto.

Just half a season left to Jeter's great career

Just half a season left to Jeter’s great career

A funny thing happened on the way to that 1995 season, though. The skinny kid, born in New Jersey and re-located to Michigan, took spring training by storm and Fernandez, the veteran, got hurt a lot, opening the door for Jeter to get a taste of being the Yankee shortstop.

Enter 1996 and the Yankees had a new manager in Joe Torre. Torre gave Jeter the job and the kid batted .314 with 10 home runs and 78 runs batted in. He was on his way, but nobody would have predicted just how far he would go.

And now, in the twilight of his great career, he has just another half season to go, and that will be that for the sure Hall of Famer. A five-time World Series champion, Jeter is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,363), games played (2,645), stolen bases (349), and at bats (10,786), at this writing. His accolades include fourteen All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter is the all-time MLB leader in hits by a shortstop, and the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits.

Not bad for the skinny kid from Kalamazoo. But, it makes us feel like we’ve aged 20 years in the blink of an eye, which is about how long it seemingly took for Derek Jeter to complete his great career.

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