Jeter homers for 3,000th hit, first Yank to do it

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NEW YORK (AP) - Mobbed by his pinstriped pals after the ball sailed into the left-field seats, showered by ovations from his fans, Derek Jeter stood alone _ the first New York Yankees player to reach 3,000 hits.

A fitting crown for the captain, on a sunny afternoon when it seemed he could do anything he wanted.

He lined his first home run of the year at Yankee Stadium. He tied a career high going 5 for 5. He singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. And, for good measure, he stole a base.

“Something I will remember for the rest of my life,” Jeter said.

With a swift swing of his shiny black bat, Jeter jolted himself into historic company, hitting a solo home run off Tampa Bay ace David Price in the third inning Saturday. He became the 28th major leaguer to hit the mark and joined former teammate Wade Boggs as the only players to do it with a home run.

Jeter watched the ball fly as he left the batter’s box and gave a big clap as he rounded first base. Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman was the first to salute Jeter, doffing his cap as Jeter passed by.

“Hitting a home run was the last thing I was thinking about,” Jeter said.

By then, all of Jeter’s teammates were already celebrating in the dugout, raising their arms almost in unison. A special time for No. 2 _ his second hit of the game, and right at 2 p.m.

Plus, a win, 5-4 over the rival Rays.

He looked every bit like a spry 27-year-old with those bright green eyes and an even brighter future, rather than a 37-year-old shortstop with his best days behind him.

The ball, one of the specially marked ones put in play for the occasion, disappeared into a cluster of fans a few rows beyond the wall. Christian Lopez of Highland Park, N.Y., sitting in Section 236, emerged with the valuable prize. He gladly gave the ball back to the Yankees so Jeter can have the memento, and the Yankees rewarded him with four tickets to every game for the rest of the season and autographed memorabilia.

“He earned it,” the 23-year-old Lopez told the YES Network. “I’m not going to be the person to take that away from him.”

Jeter 3K merchandise, meanwhile, began flying off the shelves at the souvenir stands. Hats, pins, shirts and more, all commemorating No. 3,000, hadn’t gone on sale until it occurred.

True to his nature of staying focused on the game, Jeter briskly rounded the bases. When Boggs got his 3,000th, he knelt down and kissed home plate.

Not Jeter’s style. But there was no way this moment was would pass without plenty of fanfare.

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