Pride of the Yankees

When Derek earned his 2,722nd hit at Yankee Stadium last Friday night, it was fitting that the legendary Lou Gehrig was finally surpassed by a Yankee captain equally respected and admired:

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The Iron Horse solidified his spot as my all-time favorite baseball player after reading Luckiest Man. Gehrig started his professional career at a time when players began to be seen as celebrities. Though this bigwig lifestyle suited certain teammmates, Lou avoided the spotlight and preferred to speak with his bat.

Luckiest Man showcased Gehrig’s naïvity and insecurity. He’d cry in the clubhouse after disappointing performances, was painfully shy around women, and remained devoted to his German-immigrant mother all his life. Even after earning the league MVP, he still feared the Yankees would release him. Against the advice of Ruth and others, Lou refused to negotiate aggressively and earned less than he deserved for many seasons. Honest, humble, and frugal, I’ve always looked up to the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

I would have been upset if anyone other than Jeter broke Lou’s all-time hits record, but Derek deserves it. While he may not have the highest team batting average or most home runs and RBIs each season, no one has been more valuable to the Yankees over the past decade. Like Gehrig, I can never remember Jeter embarrassing the Yankees organization and he seems to always take time for anyone who approaches him for an autograph or interview.

Jeter does everything the right way and deserves the acclaim. I would probably forever turn my back on the game if Derek was ever linked to performance enhancers. He is the reason I can continue to root for the Yankees when so many Steinbrenner business tactics make it hard to do so, and we need more honorable professionals like him:

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As Tim Kurkjian alluded, my favorite Jeter attribute is his drive to win. When asked about breaking Gehrig’s record, Jeter simply responded:

I’ve always had a tough time in my career enjoying things as they happen, because I’m always trying to look to the next game. It was devastating and a great disappointment not getting to the playoffs last year. Returning is our main goal now.

It feels so good to be in first place again. The magic number is down to 12 and I can already taste the brisk October nights in the Bronx. While there may have been some Facebook doubters in May, I’m feeling especially good about the team chemistry this fall.

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