This Day In Sports: The Captain’s flair for the dramatic

July 9, 2011: With questions swirling about his viability as a player at the age of 37, Derek Jeter makes a statement as he becomes the first player to reach 3,000 hits while wearing New York Yankees pinstripes.Jeter’s milestone came on a 420-foot home run, part of a 5-for-5 day that included the game-winning RBI in a 5-4 victory over Tampa Bay. It was the first five-hit game at the new Yankee Stadium, which had opened in 2009. It was fitting that Jeter’s final hit of the day, a single in the bottom of the eighth, drove in what would be the winning run.

Jeter, in his 17th season in New York, accomplished the feat at home before a sellout crowd of 48,103 adoring fans. As the ball landed, the Yankees stormed out of the dugout, with catcher and longtime teammate Jorge Posada the first to reach Jeter at home plate with a bear hug. In the stands (and even outside the Rays dugout), there was a standing ovation that wouldn’t stop. Jeter doffed his cap—then answered the four-plus minutes of celebration with an encore.

ESPN had a wealth of nugget numbers on the heels of Jeter’s feat. Jeter was the fourth-youngest to reach the 3,000-hit milestone, behind Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Robin Yount, who all reached it before turning 37 years old. Jeter was also just the sixth player to accumulate 3,000 hits in his first 17 seasons, joining Cobb, Aaron, Stan Musial, Pete Rose and Paul Waner.

Jeter joined Wade Boggs as the only players to reach the milestone on a home run, and he matched Craig Biggio as the only players to reach the 3,000 plateau during a five-hit game. But Jeter was the first ever to reach 3,000 while getting five hits without an out, as Biggio went 5-for-6 in his milestone game in 2007.

It was the third five-hit game of Jeter’s career, and each of them included a homer. Among the Yankees of years past, only Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle collected five hits in a game that featured a home run three different times. The momentous day sparked a renaissance for Jeter, who would go on to bat .297 for the 2011 season. He led the majors with 216 hits in 2012, played only 17 games in 2013 due to injury, and finished with a flurry in 2014, his 20th season with the Yanks, batting a respectable .256 in 145 games.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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