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. “I was pretty relieved.”
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.
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.
Jeter finished the day with 3,003 hits.
The only thing left, it seemed, was a triple _ Jeter has never hit for the cycle. Instead, he singled in the sixth, and bounced a tiebreaking single through a drawn-in infield.
The prize ball, one of the specially marked ones put in play for the occasion once Jeter got to 2,999 hits, disappeared into a cluster of fans a few rows beyond the wall. Christian Lopez of Highland Mills, N.Y., sitting in Section 236, emerged with the valuable memento after it bounced off his father’s hand.
The 23-year-old former football player from St. Lawrence University gladly gave the ball back to Jeter, saying it never occurred to him to keep it. The Yankees rewarded him with four tickets to every game for the rest of the year, and memorabilia autographed by Jeter _ three bats, three balls and two jerseys.
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.
Not Jeter’s style. But there was no way this moment was would pass without plenty of fanfare.
Posada, his good buddy, greeted Jeter with a bear hug after he crossed the plate. Rivera and the rest of the Yankees were right behind, swallowing up Jeter before he could reach the dugout. The bullpen gate swung open, too, as New York’s relievers came pouring in.
Jeter, still in the midst of a most difficult season, waved to the crowd several times, then pointed up to the box where his dad and steady girlfriend, actress Minka Kelly, were sitting. His dad was in attendance _ his mom and sister were absent, attending a christening.View Entire Story
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