Captain Clutch: Top 5 Derek Jeter Moments

Episode 2 of ESPN’s documentary “The Captain” is scheduled to air tonight, Thursday, July 21, at 9:00 PM ET. 

In honor of the series dedicated to New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter, I have compiled a list of the top five moments in the shortstop’s iconic career. This is all just a personal opinion, so feel free to disagree. However, there is no denying the magnitude of these events, not just in Jeter’s career but in the game itself. 

5) Final At-Bat

Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script. Game tied at five in the bottom of the ninth, man on second, one out, and Jeter at the dish. The Yankees’ legend then precedes to smack a walk-off single to right field, writing a storybook ending to a Hall-of-Fame career.

4) 3000th Hit

Few MLB players can say they’ve recorded 3,000 career hits, let alone reach the milestone via the long ball. Jeter managed to do just that when he took Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price deep on July 9, 2011. As Yankees announcer Michael Kay perfectly summarized, it was, “History with an exclamation point!” Jeter finished his memorable afternoon with a 5-for-5 showing at the plate.

3) Leading Off With a Bang

After securing a much-needed victory in Game 3 of the 2000 World Series, the New York Mets entered Game 4, riding plenty of momentum. However, it didn’t take long for things to shift right back in the Yanks’ favor, as Jeter sent the opening pitch from Mets pitcher Bobby Jones over the wall in left for a leadoff home run. That blast helped set the tone, as the Yankees would win the game 3-2 before clinching the series the following night.

2) Mr. November 

The 9/11 terrorist attacks resulted in the 2001 MLB schedule being pushed back a week. Alas, as the clock struck midnight on Oct. 31, Jeter became the first player in baseball history to hit in a World Series game in November. Batting with two outs in the 10th inning of Game 4 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jeter walked things off, launching an opposite-field home run against reliever Byung-Hyun Kim, tying the series, and sending Yankee Stadium into a frenzy. As Jeter rounded the bases, the cameras cut to a fan holding a sign that read “Mr. November” – a play off Reggie Jackson’s infamous moniker of “Mr. October.”

1) The Flip

“One of the most unbelievable plays you will ever see by a shortstop.” That was the famous call of FOX’s Thom Brennaman in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS and the definitive moment of Jeter’s career.

Down 2-0 in the series, and with the Yankees leading 1-0 in the seventh, Oakland A’s batter Terrence Long sent a Mike Mussina offering down the line in right. Fielded by Shane Spencer, New York’s outfielder overthrew both cutoff men. Ever alert, Jeter scampered across the diamond, in one motion, picked up the ball, and flipped it to catcher Jorge Posada, who tagged Oakland’s Jeremy Giambi, saving the game-tying run.

Jeter’s remarkable play proved the difference as the Yanks went on to win the game 1-0. New York then managed to down the A’s in Games 4 and 5, completing the comeback and advancing to the ALCS.

It’s incredible how different the series might have turned out had Captain Clutch not been in the right place at the right time – a place where shortstops are rarely seen.