Leading Off

Leading Off: Why isn’t Jeter ranked among all-time Yanks?

Babe Ruth.

Lou Gehrig.

Joe DiMaggio.

Mickey Mantle.

They’re the Mount Rushmore of New York Yankees baseball, and none had as many hits as Derek Jeter.

So why isn’t Jeter, who will soon finish his 20-year career sixth on baseball’s all-time hit list and first among shortstops, held in the same esteem as the other Yankees legends?

Ruth, “The Bambino,” was the game’s first superstar, a pitcher who went on to hit 714 home runs, a record that stood until 1974. And books and movies chronicled his legacy.

Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games before being diagnosed with ALS, which eventually would be known as “Lou Gerhig’s disease.” His retirement speech, including the sentence “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man in the world,” will be remembered forever.

DiMaggio’s 56- game hitting streak in 1941remains a record, even though his greatest accomplishment might have been getting Marilyn Monroe to marry him in 1954.

Mantle, the All-American country boy from Oklahoma, was the Paul Bunyan of his era, hitting 536home runs – many of them tape-measure blasts – despite leg injuries and heavy drinking.

Jeter made his legacy by never embarrassing the game of baseball, his teammates or himself. He played in 14 All-Star Games, held the title of Yankees captain for 12 years – longer than any other in team history – and became the only Yankee to reach 3,000 hits.

He may not be the greatest Yankee of all time. He’s just the greatest Yankee – alive.

– Victor Contreras


Today’s poll

Where should Derek Jeter rank among greatest New York Yankees ?

• No. 1

• Top three

• Top five

• Sixth or lower

To vote, go to sacbee.com/sports

Weekend results

What’s the worst thing about preseason NFL football ?

• Starters barely play: 45%

• Stats don’t count in my fantasy league: 1%

• “Toyota Red Zone”: 14%

• I don’t watch: 39%

Total votes: 249