Derek’s greatest hit


The summer before I started college in the fall of 2001 was one of travel. I went to Europe as a high school graduation present with my parents and sister and then took a road trip with a good friend of mine to 12 baseball stadiums in ten cities. Everywhere I went, I took a backpack into the Stadium and saw few security measures, if any at all.

Everything changed during my second week of classes when terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center. I woke up to a bewildering voice mail from my dad telling me that a plane had struck the Twin Towers, and then I went to class. By the time I was out, the two buildings in Lower Manhattan had collapsed, and life as we knew it was over.

That fall is a bit of a blur in my mind. As I adjusted to life at college away from the city and my parents, I found myself on the road. I went home the weekend after Sept. 11 to be in the city and around family. I traveled up to Boston in October to visit some friends (and watch the Yanks run over the Mariners in the ALCS) and went back to school for the World Series after a stop in New York. Through it all was baseball.

When play resumed after a week off in September, the Yankees continued their march to what we hoped would be a fourth straight World Series title. After two quick losses to the A’s in New York, it seemed as though the aging Yankee had finally met their Billy Beane-inspired match. But then Derek Jeter saved the day.

That Play — the one that spawned my favorite sports column of all time — is how the baseball world knows Derek Jeter best. With Jeremy Giambi lumbering around the bases and Shane Spencer digging a ball out of the corner, Derek Jeter came out of nowhere to save an errant throw and shuttle-pass the ball of Jorge Posada. Giambi didn’t slide; Posada tagged the runner; and the Yankees’ season was saved.

Jeter will soon hold the Yankees’ all-time hits record. He’ll become the first New York Yankee to top 3000 hits. Yet, his defining image will always be The Play to save the season in 2001. His baseball instincts are just tremendous.

After that ALDS, the Yankees tore through the winningest team in AL history and drew a match-up against the Diamondbacks. New York City and I continued to heal. The city came together for a celebration of the Yankees, and the Yanks seemed predestined to win the World Series. I went to game three that year with my sister, and while the Yankees won, it was the least climactic of the games played in the Bronx.

The next night, I was watching the game with some first-year friends and a few upperclassmen, and despair settled among the room when the 9th inning rolled around. The Yankees were just three outs away from going down 3 games to one against a Diamondbacks’ team led by two fierce pitchers. But Tino Martinez delivered a huge two-run home run into the night, and the Yankees were alive.

In the tenth, the clock at Yankee Stadium struck midnight, and for the first time in baseball history, the World Series reached into November. It was a cool, crisp night, and Byung-Hyun Kim quickly got two quick outs. Then, Derek Jeter came up. Jeter worked the count full and then some. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Jeter swung and the ball soared into the night. Reggie Sanders tried to track it down, but the Stadium erupted as Jeter raised his fist in celebration. The Yankees had won an improbable game, and we were jumping for joy and disbelief.

Of course, the Yankees were do it again the next night before faltering in the desert. As Luis Gonzalez’s single fell past a misplaced infield, New York’s World Series hopes died. To me though, that home run — Derek’s only RBI of the 2001 World Series — was Derek’s greatest hit. It brought the city unimaginable joy at a time when it needed it the most, and as I settled into college and Derek’s ball into the right field stands, I knew everything would be okay.

Categories : Musings


  1. alex gonzalez says:

    mr. november is everything it means to be a yankee. i hope he can continue to hit many more important hits in those clutch situations that he is so good in. i cant think of many who are better than him when it really counts.

  2. iYankees says:

    Always great, Ben. Nice read.

  3. Nate says:

    Jeter hit the HR in November and was deemed “Mr. November” Reggie hit his 3 HR in October and was called “Mr. October”.

    Just letting you know about the error…

  4. jsbrendog says:

    yes. awesome. and it will be even mo’ awesome if derek gets that alltime leading hit tomorrow on the 11th (mondesi be damned)

  5. IvanS says:

    Great column and that WS, even though they lost, was the most memorable one of the 5 they played in for me. So much drama and the NYC backdrop was something else.

    • jsbrendog says:

      i would almsot be willing to bet money that that was the best most exciting world series we will ever see in our short lifetimes.

      and because of that I, as a baseball fan, am glad i watched every game and personally am not too broken up about having lost. the experience and tension and level of play of that series is incomparable.

  6. Bill R says:

    How fitting that Derek will Pass Lou on Sept. 11th, and many of you thought the ghost wouldn’t follow the yanks across the street! They did and they made the ball miss Jeter’s bat those 12 times!

    • Makavelli says:

      We already talked about this yesterday. One really doesn’t have to do with the other.

      “Mystique and Aura? Those are dancers at a nightclub.” – Curt Schilling

      And as we all know…Curt Schilling is the arbiter of truth, honesty and the American way.

      But perhaps the ghosts pushed the days back because it is Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges birthday??

      • jsbrendog says:

        yes we did talk about it yesterday but that doesn’t mean you’re right. and i agree with bill r. it is fitting. and everything happens for a reason.

        just like derek breaking the record on sept 11

        • Makavelli says:

          I mean I think it’s kind of neat too…I always keep an open mind with everything. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I 100% believe it to be the ghosts actually doing it or it being anything other than coincidence.

          But it is pretty cool.

          • jsbrendog says:

            yeah, i dont know how i feel about the whole “ghosts” thing, true. but while the hits thing does have nothing to do with september 11th it will be cool and feel a little mroe special if it just so happens to occur on that day because the ocmmon denominator between everything is ny. it’s nice.

  7. Of course, the Yankees would do it again the next night before faltering in the desert.


  8. Makavelli says:

    What’s funny is there was a special I saw…I forget where I saw it…where somebody asks the question “Where did that guy get that ‘Mr. November’ sign???” Their’s a guy in right field over where the home run was hit who holds this banner like sign that says “Mr. November” almost immediately after the home run was hit haha. It’s a mystery in it’s own right perhaps. Sure the guy COULD have made it then and there…but with everybody jumping up and down screaming and yelling…writing that clearly and that quickly doesn’t really add up.

  9. Chris says:

    Clemens vs A-Rod was in 2000. In 2001, A-Rod was in Texas. The Yankees played Seattle in the ALCS in both 2000 and 2001.

  10. It’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow, right? Watch, they’ll start the game, Jeter’ll get the hit, then they’ll call the game and he’ll have to do it again on Saturday.

  11. OmgZombies! says:

    Minka Kelly
    Lara Dutta
    Jessica Alba

    Take your pick

  12. Personally, I love how Derek took the walk last night.

    Don’t get the record tying and record breaking hit in the same game. Milk that shit, homie. Milk it. Double the PR, double the box-office gate, double the hoopla. You media savvy bastard, you. I know what you’re up to, Jeets.



  13. yankeefan91 Arod fan says:

    I was So disapointed that the Yankees loss in the world series that year i wanted the Yankees to win so badly after what happen that year and i know most of the world was cheering for the yanks to win.But i also believe that’s Jeter biggest hit so far.

  14. The 2001 team will always hold a special place in my heart. Being a Yankees fan at that time and watching that team do what it did was so important to us. It was an escape from all the sadness and fear we were all feeling. Every night that team played we could put aside all those feelings, if just for a few hours, and lose ourselves in our favorite sport. Watching that team, a team that was really past its prime (as a team) and probably had no business even making it to the World Series that year… Watching that team pull out improbable victory after improbable victory against superior opponents, was just an incredible escape. I’ll always remember going to the same friend’s house for each game and sitting in the same seats in his basement, and the feeling that while we were all down there watching that team claw its way farther than it probably should have gotten, that all the other feelings we’d all been dealing with during that time could leave us, if just for a few hours. For a few hours, we could drink beers and laugh and make fun of Bob Brenly and Byung-Hyun Kim and cheer for the Yankees and smile. In the past I’ve said to my friends that the 2001 team might be my favorite Yankees team of them all, which always seems strange to everyone since they lost, but that whole experience was just so important at the time.

    So yeah… Nice post, Ben.

    PS: I’ll never forgive Arizona for playing “New York, New York” to gloat after they won Game 7. Whoever made that decision should eat a big shit sandwich.

    • PS: I’ll never forgive Arizona for playing “New York, New York” to gloat after they won Game 7. Whoever made that decision should eat a big shit sandwich.

      Jerry Colangelo is a spiteful, grudge-holding pig-fucker.

    • jsbrendog says:

      so what you’re saying is it was awe-inspiring? was it eerie how they kept winning improbable game after improbable game?

      but seriously, i agree, minus the whole friend’s house in there cause i obv didn’t do that.

    • Makavelli says:

      At that point…if only for a moment…I believed in the “ghosts” and the “everything happens for a reason” hooplah. It was the only way to explain what was happening…at such a horrific time in everyone’s life…specifically those living in New York. When the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees…I didn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. It was as though this cloud I had been on holding all of these abstract possibilities I had wished been true but been skeptical about…disappeared and I was falling back down to earth at rapid speed. Especially when you saw all those kids and family members of the deceased who were flown over to see the Yankees win the World Series…it just didn’t add up.

      Oh well. A microcosm for life I guess. It just isn’t fair sometimes.

  15. Game five, I was lying in bed listening to the game on radio, and I said out loud, “there is no fucking way they do it two nights in a row”.

    That night taught me anything is possible.

  16. Kid moe says:

    I’ve been trying to find a picture of Jeter jumping onto homeplate after that home run for years. I guess only that SD video of him doing it (the camera men run behind them) is the only proof of it. Probably the most epic leap ever.

  17. jsbrendog says:

    so, my next question, who’s got the 2001 World Series DVD and can hook me up with a rip or a copy?

  18. JasonR says:

    “PS: I’ll never forgive Arizona for playing “New York, New York” to gloat after they won Game 7. Whoever made that decision should eat a big shit sandwich.”

    They did that after Game 6. After a 15-2 blowout. No class.

    • Bill R says:

      Seriously, That’s the lowest form of being a sore loser. Just Scumbags. No member of the Yankees organization would EVER do something that disrespectful. Sinatra’s estate should have sued them for defamation!

  19. Observer283 says:

    That was the most exciting playoff series I have ever personally watched. I have never, ever wanted a team to win more than the 2001 Yankees. I too was a freshman at school. Up in Sox territory. But even from there I knew how much that playoff run meant to the the city. And if they could have pulled it off, less than two months after NYC suffered through the most tragic single event ever to occur on US soil…wow.

    Also, I think we forget just how incredible that win would have been from a pure baseball perspective. The A’s won more than 100 games that year. So did the Mariners. In fact, the Mariners won 116 games that year, tied for the most ever in regular season history. That Diamondbacks team had one of the best pitchers of all time and one of the best post season pitchers of all time pitching at their highest level.

    Beating those three teams would probably have been the most impressive achievement in Baseball post-season history (with the only competition being what the Sox did to us in ’04). No team (perhaps in any American sport?) has ever had to face competition that stiff in each post-season round (maybe the ’07 New York Football Giants?).

    And again, when you take into account what the city had just been through and the fact that we all knew it was the end off an era (O’Neill, Martinez, Brosius), well what a championship that would have been.

    But that’s why love sports. It just refuses to follow the script.

    And as Ben noted, the run they gave us was invaluable, if ultimately not victorious.

  20. JMK says:

    Having read all of the comments, I’m really surprised (and thrilled) that there hasn’t been any political chatter stemming from the sensitive nature of the post. That usually ends badly here at RAB (or any site that isn’t solely dedicated to politics).

    Also, great post, Ben.

  21. Andrew says:

    I was there for that game and it was one of the best moments of my life. I was really young than ( eleven years old) but i knew what i saw was something unbelievably special. Only know do i really realize how much that series and playoff run meant to the city and how much sports can do for a group of people. Also Ben great post

  22. The Last Paragraph says:

    “It brought the city unimaginable joy at a time when it needed it the most, and as I settled into college and Derek’s ball into the right field stands, I knew everything would be okay.”

    Everything would be okay?

    The end of your article is disgusting and appalling. Comparing everything being “okay” to a Yankee fan to the state of the real world after the events of 9/11 is nothing short of wrong. A great baseball moment? Yes. Was it a way for someone to get their mind off the terrorist attacks? Yes.

    However, at that moment there was nothing close to being “okay.” Not in our country, and certainly not in New York. The country was in shambles; immense doubt was cast over the competency of our President; the death toll of TRUE heroes and family members to many reached the thousands.

    What about that home run made “everything okay” to the millions of American citizens?

    Yet, you have the audacity to say that a home run by Derek Jeter made you feel like everything was going to be “okay?” It’s time to grow up and realize some things are bigger than sports.

    As a Yankee fan and frequent reader of this blog, I’m deeply angered and ashamed at the poor choice of wording. Unfortunately, for those of us who can contextualize events in sports, this home run did nothing to make “everything okay.”

    I will really have to think hard about returning to this blog.

      • JMK says:

        I feel like he did this to spite me. I’m self-centered, right?

        • Rick says:

          There was nothing political about what he said how is that spiting you? Maybe he lost a family member, try seeing it from that point of view.

          • Makavelli says:


            Exactly. Everybody has different point of views on things…including Ben who wrote it. Maybe Ben really did think everything was okay and totally normal after Jeter hit his home run? Who knows? Everybody views things differently.

      • … but, I can’t help it, so I will:

        Ben said that “…as I settled into college and Derek’s ball into the right field stands, I knew everything would be okay.”

        HE knew everything was okay. His becoming comfortable in college, and his experience of watching Yankee baseball again made HIM feel like everything WOULD be okay. Not that everything WAS okay for EVERYONE, just that everything WOULD be okay. For Ben Kabak.

        He never said that Derek’s homer made everything okay “to the millions of American citizens”, as you put it.

        Ben’s sharing a personal experience. Recognize that he may feel differently about the world than you do and maybe it won’t offend you so much.

        • jsbrendog says:

          so, in the end, last paragraph fail

        • Makavelli says:

          “Everything” means “everything” though. No matter how you try to splice it. I’m saying he didn’t mean it the way it was interpreted. You’re saying what was said is okay…which I don’t necessarily agree with…but I’m not one to get upset over it due to the fact that I was fortunate enough to not have any loved ones in the incident…had I had any I probably would have had an entirely different outlook perhaps.

        • Nady Nation says:

          Your explanation of Ben’s diction choice was disgusting and appalling. I will really have to think hard about reading your comments again on this blog.

          • Rick says:

            Ben’s diction choice was very poor. I’m sorry if you don’t see it that way. As someone who was deeply impacted by the events of 9/11 I understand why “The Last Paragraph” would be angered.

            • Makavelli says:

              I understand both sides. I don’t really “blame” anybody in this particular disagreement. A poor choice of wording? perhaps…but maybe he generally felt that way…and if he actually felt that way how can you blame him for writing how he felt on his own blog? On the other hand, “The Last Paragraph” could have felt entirely different…perhaps lost somebody he cared about or knew people in the horrible event in which he feels ultimately different than Ben. And I don’t blame him for feeling that way one bit.

              But who says you have to take sides here?

            • No, Ben’s diction choice was clear and fine.

              The Last Paragraph ascribed tons of false meaning into Ben’s diction and put words in his mouth.

              Ben never “Compared everything being “okay” to a Yankee fan to the state of the real world after the events of 9/11″ like The Last Paragraph claimed.

              Ben never said that the “home run made ‘everything okay’ to the millions of American citizens” like The Last Paragraph claimed.

              Dude is twisting Ben’s innocent personal anecdote into a sweeping blanket statement about something else.

    • Makavelli says:

      I will really have to think hard about returning to this blog.


      I get in trouble for this a lot on this board. It was a poor choice of words to use but I’m sure he didn’t mean it as literally as you are taking it. “Everything okay.” being used in his literature might have been meant as something in yours perhaps. I don’t truly think that because of Derek Jeter’s homerun…everybody who lost their family members, friends, and colleagues were entirely fine during or after the home run.

      Perhaps it was meant as poor wording for “everyone who was watching had something to take their mind off…if only for a moment”.

      Either way. Things shouldn’t be taken so literally on these boards. I don’t know Ben all that well but I’m fairly certain he didn’t mean the way it was interpreted…even though it’s exactly what was said in the post.

      But you have your opinions and reactions as I do mine. If a misunderstanding had you packing up your things immediately…I guess that’s your own personal choice.

    • As a Yankee fan and frequent reader of this blog, I’m deeply angered and ashamed at the poor choice of wording.

      Would you have preferred a “for me” somewhere in there? Because that’s the context. For me, it would be okay. I made some great friends in college over baseball. I felt more comfortable there after a few months of finding people who had similar interests as I did.

      It wasn’t meant as some statement on the geopolitics or U.S. foreign policy after Sept. 11. It was meant as a personal reflection, and it wasn’t a poor choice of words either. You shouldn’t be deeply angered and ashamed. That certainly wasn’t my intention, and I’m sorry you feel that way. Feel free to e-mail me if you want to talk about it.

    • His choice of words was not “disgusting and appalling.” When I read that sentence I found it a bit clunky and I think it’s the kind of phrasing that might be edited and altered upon further review by Ben, but it wasn’t disgusting and appalling. I think he meant, and I don’t think anyone could take issue with him saying, that watching baseball that Fall offered him a return to some sort of normalcy during a time of great sadness, anger and fear. That sentiment is a sentiment that has clearly been echoed by many of us, and I don’t see how anyone could take issue with it.

      The Yankees’ 2001 postseason run provided an emotional escape and release for many of us. Was ‘everything ok’ in the world just because we got to watch the Yankees that postseason? No, of course not. But it offered many of us an escape and affirmed for many of us that we could start to move on and continue healing and moving towards normalcy. I don’t mean to speak for Ben, but as someone who wrote above about the same feelings as Ben expressed in his post, I think I get what he meant, and I think you should slow down a bit and be a bit more even-handed, reasonable and diplomatic in your critique.

  23. Wayne's World says:

    Beautifully done, Ben. This one’s a keeper.

  24. completely 100% agree. I was at that game, and aside from game6 in 96, I’ve never felt the stadium’s energy like it was after that HR.

  25. Nels says:

    Jeter’s game four HR was great, but for me this was the defining moment of the 2001 WS:

  26. nilnil says:

    could you please give me the link of that clip of replay?

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