Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jeter Would Be First Yankee to 3000 Hits

With Derek Jeter only nine hits away from breaking the Yankees all-time hits record, it struck me the other night that the Yankees have, in their illustrious history, not had a 3000 hit hitter--certainly not one that was a Yankee his entire career.

Yesterday, I was talking to Mike McCann of WFAN, when I brought this up, and we devolved into a long conversation as to why this has happened.

As it turns out, most of the everyday Yankees that we idolize as part of the team's storied history have legitimate reasons as to why they were never able to play long enough to collect 3,000 hits:

  • Lou Gehrig got sick with ALS, a disease that now commonly is referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  There is little question that had Gehrig remained healthy he would have broken the record.
  • Joe DiMaggio lost seasons due to World War Two, as did many other of the best players of that era.
  • Mickey Mantle's career was derailed by injuries and some not-so-good off field habits.

These are only three  examples, but they are among the most high-profile Yankees (you could also consider Babe Ruth and Yogi Berra here) to have ever worn the uniform.  If they never reached 3000 hits, that tells you two things:

1) It tells you just how hard it is to achieve this feat--how long one has to play and how long one has to remain healthy.

2) It tells you just how good Derek Jeter really is.  No, seriously.  He might never win that MVP award (Gehrig never won a World Series without either Ruth or DiMaggio; this is baseball, strange things happen), but Jeter is easily one of the ten best Yankees to have ever put on the uniform.