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Monte Witnesses History – Jeters 3,000th Hit

On Saturday,  July 9th 2011,  48,103 Yankee fans all simultaneously  chanted their captain’s name before every single pitch during the game against the Tampa Bay Rays.  “Derek Jeter!” *clap clap clap* “Derek Jeter!”. Then, after every David Price pitch, nobody in the stadium took a breath of air until the pitch either met the catcher’s glove or Derek put some wood on the ball.

Photo courtesy Monte Jennings

Each of us in the stadium were awaiting Derek’s 3,000th big league hit.  Only 27 men in 135 years of baseball had reached that milestone - and nobody from our New York Yankees. At 2:02 in the afternoon,  a full count and one hit shy, ol’ Monte heard the loudest ovation one could possibly ever imagine – it was then that I realized I had witnessed history.

I have been fortunate enough in my life time to do some incredible things when it comes to sports, most importantly, my Yanks. I was in the old Yankee Stadium bleachers the night Josh Hamilton unloaded 28 home runs in the first round of the 2008 Home Run Derby.  I sat in those very same bleachers for game one of the 2009 World Series.  I have been in the club house, sat in the dugout and have even had the pleasure of meeting my boyhood idol, Don Mattingly.  One thing I have never done and always wish I had the chance to do, was see a milestone.  A no-hitter, 500 homers, etc. – I have never had the chance to do so.   However, after watching Derek creep up on 3,000 career hits, I plotted and schemed for two years to see history in person.

Originally, I had calculated Derek getting 3K by the third week in June. Based on his career numbers, I broke out the abacus and narrowed it down to two days. I felt so strongly in these two days that I planned a trip to Disney World around it!  Then – ugh, he hit DL with a calf injury just six hits shy on the 15th.  Though I was almost dead on with the time frame, I now had to re-plan!  I looked at the calendar and said to myself, “self, Derek will come back on Monday, July 5th vs the Indians.”  At that time he had around 68 hits in 62 games, about one hit per game.  The math said FRIDAY!  Monte and his lady friend spent $107 per ticket to sit in the bleachers for Friday’s game, ready to see 3K!

Friday, the 8th we packed up the Darcy mobile and headed to the Bronx.  As we got closer and closer I kept clutching my ticket saying “tonight’s the night!” “hot damn tonight!”.  With each exit on the Northway came an increase in clouds.  After about two and half hours of driving, I had a hard time determining if there was more water in my lap from the tears falling or the water hitting the pavement from the torrential down pour that has ensued.  One exit away from the Stadium, the Yankees Twitter account tells us “Tonight’s game has been canceled. The make-up game is still TBA”  UGH.  First a calf injury and now mother nature is holding Derek at 2,998 career hits.  Here is my dilemma – I said one hit per game.  Will he get two on Saturday!? What if I spend another $107 just to see hit number 2,999?!?  So, ol’ Monte did the only logical thing he knows how to do – he gambled.

We stayed over-night in Fishkill and Stub Hubbed another pair of bleacher tickets.  I’ve waited since 1996 to see the young man hit number 3,000 and I wasn’t going to let a calf injury, a rain out or a few hundred smackers prevent me from seeing such a milestone!  Saturday morning came and we hit the road, bright sunshine and all!  My newly purchased (and DRY) clothes from the Fishkill WalMart were ready to see history.

I was nervous as hell when Jeter strolled to the plate in his first at bat. I knew the numbers against the opposing pitcher – he was 6-25 against David Price.  Pretty much 1/4. I knew his yearly stats – one hit per game.  I kept thinking “two, we just  need two hits!” Yes, I can say “we”.  Most of my nerves were set at ease once Jeter singled to lead off the game!  2,999! In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that around the 7th inning, this place is going to be in a frenzy.  No way would Jeter get a hit in his first two plate appearances. Just to be safe, I kept the same piece of gum in my mouth and never uncrossed my fingers. Hey, we all have our little superstitious quirks.

By the third inning, the clock was about the strike 2 PM.  Jeter walked near home, bat in hand, and everyone in the stadium got on their feet. 48,103 people all on their feet.  The Jeter chant before every pitch, an “ohhhhheeewwwuuuhhoohhh” noise for every foul ball.  Pure silence on every pitch he didn’t swing at.  Nobody wanted a walk. Nobody wanted a strike out.  As Price reared back on that fateful full count pitch at 2:02 PM, all I could hear was CRACK! The ball sailed to left field.  As the ball was about 75 feet from the left field wall, I jumped on top of the bleachers, almost standing on Darcy’s shoulders.  Then, the ball went over the wall.  The LOUDEST ovation I have ever heard  – one no words in this story can describe.  I was like a little kid on Christmas.  I smiled ear to ear and handed out high fives to random strangers.  Everyone in a Yankee shirt was my friend today.  For a few minutes, everyone in the stadium forgot who they were, what they do and any real life drama went by the way side, we all were in awe of the captain. I clutched my camera, my game ticket which will be framed and spit out my gum.  I was in the stands the day that future hall of famer and classiest man in baseball, Derek Jeter, garnered career hit number 3,000.

Finally, I witnessed history. What has been your favorite moment in sports? Or perhaps your most exciting concert experience?

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