Far too often, the sports pages of most daily newspapers read like crime blotters, with reports of athletes behaving badly overshadowing triumphs and championships. Drug use, psychotic outbursts and even violent crime have cause more than a few fans to wonder what happened to the idea of athletes as role models.
And then there’s Derek Jeter, the captain of the Yankees and, as of last week, the most prolific hitter in the storied history of the Bronx Bombers. Since joining the Yankees in 1995, Mr. Jeter has personified those traits that fans associate, rightly or wrongly, with a bygone era.
Last Friday night at Yankee Stadium, Mr. Jeter slapped a hit to right field in the third inning to record hit number 2,722. That well-placed single broke the Yankee record held for 70 years by the legendary Lou Gehrig, another player whose grace and dignity captivated a generation of fans—even those who rooted against the Yankees.
Today’s fans might well reminisce about the legends of old, of great New York baseball players like Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio and Tom Seaver, who brought nothing but class and style to the playing field. Those fans should realize, as surely they do now, that not all legends are gone or retired. For there is a man in a Yankee uniform today who represents all that we could wish for in an athlete. And he happens to be the greatest hit producer in his team’s history.
Well done, Mr. Jeter.