It's no secret that Derek Jeter had a certain flare for the dramatic during his Yankees career (it feels so weird to write about Jeter in past tense now). So why would his much hyped 3,000th hit be any different?
Jeter needed two hits going into the July 9, 2011 game against the Rays to get his 3,000th hit. Jeter was struggling throughout much of the 2011 season and was hitting under .270. It was really the first time he actually started to look like his age.
David Price was the Rays' pitcher that day and even though he's a lefty it was hard to see Jeter doing much against his 97 MPH fastball at his age. Logic would dictate that if Jeter would have success against Price it would be with his patented inside out swing with singles to right field.
After getting a single to left in the first inning to put him one away, Jeter faced Price again in the third inning and worked the count to 3-2. Surely, with his blazing fastball Price would try to throw it the 37-year old Jeter with declining bat speed. For some reason, Price went with a curve and Jeter demolished the pitch over the left field fence for a home run. This wasn't some Yankee Stadium home run to the short porch, but an absolutely zero doubt about it home run. It was only Jeter's third home run of the season.
For a non-power hitter, an amazing amount of Jeter moments have been home runs. The Jeffrey Maier home run, the leadoff home run in Game 4 of the Subway Series, this 3,000th hit and the greatest one is still yet to be revealed on this countdown are all incredible.
The crazy thing is that Jeter didn't stop after the 3,000th hit. A nice 2-for-5 day with a home run for his 3,000th hit would have been an outstanding moment on its own. However, in classic Jeter he ended up going 5-for-5 with a game winning single in the eighth inning to put the Yankees ahead 5-4. It was not good enough for Jeter to have a dramatic 3,000th hit, he had to make sure the Yankees won the game.
Also in classic Jeter, even throughout all this he never went crazy with emotions or celebrations. He didn't show anybody up because there was still an important game to win against a division rival who was chasing them in the standings.
What everybody will remember about this game was Jeter's 3000th hit being a moonshot home run, but what Jeter would want everybody to remember was his single in the eighth inning to win the game. That's what makes him so special.