Taking My Hacks

Derek Jeter – A Modern-Era Hobby Icon

Joe Orlando

I will be the first one to admit it. For a long time, I thought Derek Jeter was somewhat overrated as a player. There... I said it. Yes, in retrospect, I was wrong. I know there is a contingent of people out there who still think Jeter is overrated but most of them are Red Sox fans. I kid, I kid... well, maybe not so much.

Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere the last few months, I am sure you are well aware of Jeter's entry into the 3000 Hit Club, one of the most prestigious clubs in all of sports. Despite struggling for most of the year, at least by Jeter standards, he turned back the clock by going 5 for 5 at the plate, blasting his way into the record books in his second at bat, crushing a home run to left-centerfield for the milestone hit.

Amazingly, with all the mega stars who have donned pinstripes, he is the first player to reach that plateau. Not Ruth, not Gehrig, not DiMaggio, not Mantle, not Berra... it was Jeter who reached 3000 hits first. It is a milestone that takes a sustained level of excellence over a long period of time, one that you rarely see in sports or any profession for that matter. Just think of all the singers and actors who were great for a while only to fade into obscurity a short time later.

What was most poetic about Jeter's memorable day, aside from the big home run and the 5-hit performance, was the fact that the New York Yankees won the game. In fact, it was Jeter who delivered the hit when it mattered most, an RBI single to break the tie in the eighth inning against the division rival Tampa Bay Rays. That is what defines Jeter's career. He is a winner, plain and simple.

The term "old school" or "throwback" are two of the most overused terms in sports today but, when it comes to Jeter, it really does apply. Jeter is unlike many modern-era athletes since he puts his team and winning above all else. Jeter has never been considered the best player in baseball, nor should he be. There are plenty of others who have outperformed him on an individual basis.

Jeter doesn't have the gaudy statistics of A-Rod, Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols but he has plenty of World Series rings, more than those three guys combined. In fact, A-Rod won his first and only World Series championship after teaming up with Jeter in New York. Speaking of New York, you can make a valid argument that Jeter hasn't even been the best player on his own team. During the same time period, many baseball fans would argue that Mariano Rivera was more of a force than Jeter.

Beyond his baseball skills, Jeter has handled himself with class on and off the field. His story is still being told as he remains active and is involved in, yet again, another pennant chase but Jeter's body of work as a player and person – at least what we do know about him – makes him a hobby icon. That is something lacking in today's world of sports and I wish, for the sake of young boys who dream of being a big leaguer someday, that there were more like him.

Just imagine the pressure he has endured and the work ethic it has taken to have been Derek Jeter the last three decades. It is hard not to appreciate the type of player and person who is able to dig deep and consistently rise to the occasion without compromising themselves or their character. That is admirable in any human being and it inspires hobbyists too.

I hope future generations of sports stars follow in Jeter's footsteps and give future generations of collectors a reason to be involved.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief