New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is Mr. Baseball. Jeter collected his 3,320th hit on Sunday passing Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for eighth place on the career hits list with a single in the fourth inning during the game against the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Jeter will retire this year and has just started his farewell tour around baseball. In the age of players moving from team to team for larger and larger paychecks, Jeter has played his entire career with the New York Yankees. The shortstop has been selected to 13 All-Star teams and has won five World Series. Jeter has had a career that many MLB players would kill for.
And the entire time, Jeter has been known for his hard work ethic and professionalism and often is the peacekeeper in the clubhouse. Very few players are held in as high esteem by opposing teams as Jeter is.
With all the awards and records Derek Jeter has earned with the New York Yankees, is he really Mr. Baseball? It is a question that few would argue. Beyond the diamond, Jeter has reached out to help those in need. In 1996 the shortstop founded the Turn 2 Foundation. Turn 2 being the baseball term for getting a double play, turning one out into two. The foundation is focused on keeping kids away from drug and alcohol addiction.
The Turn 2 Foundation has raised over $17 million dollars since being established. The money has gone to programs in New York, Florida and Michigan. It was an important cause for Jeter and a way for him to use his baseball talent to give back to those in need. Jeter wanted to start the foundation when he made it because his favorite player Dave Winfield was giving back through his own foundation. It inspired Jeter and help shape him into the person he is today.
While many players have their own foundations, and help their communities, most of them would be honored to be mentioned in the same breath as Jeter. The All-Star has been a class act on and off the field and when he retires at the end of the season, it may be a long time before baseball finds another player at his level.
However, Jeter has not retired yet. The season is not more than a week old and while currently in eighth place on the all time hit list, there is a very good chance that Jeter could move up even higher. With 99 more hits the slugger would tie Carl Yastrzemski and with 110 hits this season Jeter would tie Honus Wagner for sixth place. As long as Jeter stays healthy this season, he should have no issues passing both Yastrzemski and Wagner.
It is clear to many out there, New York Yankees fans or not, that Derek Jeter is a rare player and a good person and should be regarded as Mr. Baseball. It will be sad to see the Major Leagues without Jeter after the season is over. His career, philanthropy, and his ethics need to live on in professional sports.
Commentary by Carl Auer