Yogi Berra has occupied that position, one of the great home run hitting catchers of all time, and is often referred to as “the greatest living Yankee.” You could make the case now, that Jeter, with 3,316 career hits entering his final season (averaging 206 hits a year for 19 seasons), and a career .312 batting average, is worthy of that fifth spot.
Perhaps the greatest measure of his legacy is the level of respect opponents had for him.
There is no greater rival for the Yankees than the Boston Red Sox. The hatred between the two franchises runs deep, back to the day Babe Ruth was traded from Boston to New York, and goes from the stands to the field to the front office.
Yet the hottest 2014 Red Sox ticket is not Opening Day, when they will present the team with their World Series rings and raise their championship banner. No, it is the last game of the year at Fenway Park – Jeter’s last game.
“This last Jeter game is now a tougher ticket than the Opening Day ring ceremony,” Jim Holzman, CEO and president of Boston-based Ace Tickets, said, according to ESPN.
He had conducted himself with such class and competitiveness that it trumps any and all petty animosities. In the TMZ era of scandal, no one has laid a glove on him, even in the biggest fish bowl of them all, New York.
Perhaps this is the best way to describe the legacy of Derek Jeter – he was everything Alex Rodriguez was not.
The Pride of the Yankees II.
• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com