Yankee Stadium erupted Saturday as Derek Jeter reached the prized 3,000-hit milestone with a home run in the third inning that set off cheers and chants as he rounded the bases and celebrated with teammates.
The 37-year-old Jeter is the 28th major leaguer to get 3,000 hits and the first to do it with the Yankees. He got five hits total Saturday, helping the Yankees beat Tampa Bay 5-4.
"Hitting a home run is the last thing I thought about -- I just wanted to hit the ball hard," Jeter said in an interview with YES network after the game. "It was fun. I felt a lot of relief after it was over with. It's definitely something I'll remember the rest of my life."
The crowd rejoiced -- strangers hugged strangers and fans wept in the stands -- when Jeter achieved his goal, which was also his first home run at home this year. He joins former teammate Wade Boggs as the only players to reach 3,000 with a home run.
"When the pitch came, the stadium was shaking. I was shaking," said Jason Gonzalez, of the Bronx. "People were crying, hugging each other. I dropped my beer -- $9 right out the window."
"Everyone was standing," said Caroline West, of Nyack, N.Y. "It was nuts."
People gathered outside the stadium, listening on their radios.
"I knew he could do it -- he's incredible," said Melvin Samuels.
Jeter 3K merchandise began flying off the shelves at the souvenir stands. Hats, pins, shirts and more, all commemorating No. 3,000, hadn't gone on sale until it occurred.
Jeter watched the ball fly as he left the batter's box and gave a big clap as he rounded first base. Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman was the first to salute Jeter, doffing his cap as Jeter passed by.
By then, all of Jeter's teammates were already celebrating in the dugout, raising their arms almost in unison. A special time for No. 2 — his second hit of the game, and right at 2 p.m.
The ball, one of the specially marked ones put in play for the occasion, disappeared into a cluster of fans a few rows beyond the wall.
True to his nature of staying focused on the game, Jeter briskly rounded the bases. But there was no way this moment was going to pass without plenty of fanfare.
Good buddy Jorge Posada greeted Jeter with a bear-hug after he touched home plate. Mariano Rivera and the rest of the Yankees were right behind, swallowing up Jeter before he could reach the dugout. The bullpen gate swung open, too, as New York's relievers came pouring in.
Jeter, still in the midst of a most difficult season, waved to the crowd several times, then clenched his fist and pointed up to the box where his parents and girlfriend, actress Minka Kelly, have been sitting.
Boggs congratulated Jeter in a statement, saying "it is an exclusive honor, achieved by only a select group, that not many people can call their own. It is a monumental achievement."