Keri: Derek Jeter and the legacy of Mr. November

From Jonah Keri at on September 24, 2014:

The most famous hit of Derek Jeter’s career sparked a legendary nickname.

Entering the 2001 playoffs, the Yankees’ shortstop had built a reputation as a high-stakes performer, but he’d yet to earn a postseason moniker. While Reggie Jackson had become “Mr. October” after blasting three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series to lead New York to victory, Jeter was still Jeter after six-plus seasons.

That changed in Game 4 of the ’01 title bout. When Jeter came to bat against Diamondbacks reliever Byung-Hyun Kim with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, the clock struck midnight, flipping the calendar from Halloween to November 1 — the latest date an MLB game had been played. After battling for eight pitches, Jeter got a hanger belt-high and over the plate, and he smacked a low line drive that carried toward the foul pole in right and snuck over the wall.

The homer knotted the series at two games apiece. Given both the magnitude of the moment and the timing, Jeter’s new title was obvious: Reggie might be Mr. October, but Jeter would be Mr. November.

All this time later, as Jeter plays the final week of a 20-year career that saw him make 14 All-Star Games and win five World Series, what resonates most about that homer is what a fitting snapshot it turned out to be. While Jeter became known over his two decades for rising to the occasion and delighting fans with his heroics, he was above all a technician, slashing at pitches with his trademark inside-out swing. When Gatorade feted Jeter’s legacy in a recent ad, it fittingly used Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” for background music. For Jeter, doing things his way primarily meant replicating that swing, which the New York Times recently reckoned he’d repeated 342,000 times as a professional.

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Originally published: September 25, 2014. Last Updated: September 25, 2014.