By Kimberly Gaity
On an already somber evening marking the eighth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, New York fans entered Yankee Stadium only to sit through an 87 minute rain delay before even seeing a pitch thrown. The torrential rain and bitter cold, however, weren’t enough to deter a sold out crowd of soggy fans who came to celebrate their Patriot Day by watching America’s favorite pastime.
As Yankee Captain Derek Jeter stepped to the plate in the third inning, he wanted to give the crowd a reason for enduring such conditions, and he delivered to the extreme. With one of his classic sharp grounders through the infield, Jeter broke the all-time franchise hits record, held by former captain Lou Gehrig for the past seven decades. The hit marked Jeter’s 2,722nd hit in pinstripes as well as his 268th hit against Baltimore, his most against any opponent.
“I didn’t expect that many people to be out there after the rain delay considering how hard it was raining when we started the game,” Jeter told the AP. “But the fans were incredible. It says a lot about how they feel about their team and more importantly how they feel about the history of their team. I appreciate each and every one that was there.”
After rounding first base on his record breaking hit, Jeter gave an empathetic clap and headed back to the bag as he tipped his helmet in appreciation to the roaring crowd. The boisterous ovation lasted for three minutes as Yankee players poured out of the dug-out to congratulate their captain on such a historic milestone.
“I didn’t know that they were going to do that, so that sort of caught me off-guard,” Jeter said,according to the AP. “It’s a special moment for me, it’s a special moment for the organization. To get an opportunity to share it with my teammates was a lot of fun.” What was even more special, as announcer Michael Kay pointed out, was the timeliness of it all. “What a treat for these New York fans on such a solemn day in their history…I couldn’t have written this any better myself.”
Although the weather prevented the stadium from doing their usual lavish 9/11 pregame ceremony, still both teams and the umpires wore red caps with stars and stripes inside the logos to commemorate the eighth anniversary and included a long moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives in the attacks. The team also presented the colors to the NYPD, FDNY, and several other service men and women representing our military branches.
Although some may say baseball is just a game, with just the swing of a bat Derek Jeter not only broke a historic record, he gave New York a beam of light to celebrate on the anniversary of their darkest day, and you don’t have to be a baseball fan or even a Yankee fan to value that.
“You can’t help but think back,” Jeter said. “I think everyone thinks back, whether you’re in this clubhouse, on this team, in New York City, I think everyone in the country looks back and gets a chance to reflect on Sept. 11.