This Sunday marks the end of Derek Jeter’s remarkable career in baseball. Jeter came up in 1995 with the Yankees and has been there ever since. He announced his retirement before the season and has been playing his last season while a farewell tour went on around him.
Jeter made his debut with the Yankees on May 29, 1995 and became their regular shortstop at the start of the 1996 season has been there ever since. He won the Rookie of the Year Award that year and his other awards have included Most Valuable Player in the All Star Game and World Series Most Valuable Player in 2000, 14 All Star Game appearances, five Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers..
The same year that Jeter arrived on the Yankee scene, three other players who would start and finish their careers with the Yankees made their debuts. Andy Pettitte, made his debut on April 29, exactly one month before Jeter, Mariano Rivera made his debut on May 23 and Jorge Posada his on September 4. All four had been drafted and signed by the Yankees and had come up through the Yankee farm system.
Jeter, Posada and Rivera played their entire careers with the Yankees and Pettitte played 15 years, leaving from 2004 to 2006 to join the Houston Astros before returning to the Yankees to finish his career. Jeter played 20 years, Rivera 19 and Posada 17 giving them 71 total years service in the Bronx. Between them, they played a total of 6,133 regular season games. Jeter played in 158 post season games, Posada 125, Rivera 96 and Pettitte 44. They were all members of five World Series Championship teams.
Jeter, with his 3,461 plus hits, and Rivera, with his 652 saves, are sure to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Pettitte won 219 and lost 127 with the Yankees and won another 37 and lost 26 with Houston and could be elected with 256 wins. Even though the unofficial standard for pitchers used to be 300 wins, we may never see a 300 game winner again.
Posada, after having played in 1829 games, most of the time behind the plate, taking the beating all catchers take, was the first to retire in 2011 and Pettitte and Rivera followed in 2013. Now, Jeter plays his last game on Sunday.
There is a good chance there will never be a quartet to match the productivity and longevity of this group with one team. Jeter’s retirement closes the last page on a great chapter in Yankee history written by these four fine athletes. The Yankee Class of 1995 was in a class by itself.