Derek Jeter went two for two in his 14th All-Star game after 20 seasons as a Major League Baseball player. A Hall of Fame player, he will be remembered not only for longevity and records, but for a virtue we all value but seldom call attention to -- dependability. Jeter is the all-time Major League leader in hits by a shortstop This places him above Honus Wagner, Cal Ripkin, Jr., and Pee Wee Reese to name just a few of the greatest to play the game. He also won Hank Aaron awards, which take into account hits, home runs, and RBIs. Jeter's most impressive recognition is the Roberto Clemente Award for his service to troubled teens through his Turn 2 Foundation. Not a great fielder, he still managed to win five Golden Glove Awards.
Named the shortstop of decade by both Sporting News and Sports Illustrated, Rick Reilly went further calling him "the best player in baseball for ten years." Yet, during that time, he was never voted MVP. What made Jeter great was his dependability. He consistently got on base and was a canny base runner. He was the teammate to be counted on. Plagued by nagging injuries, he showed up and played no matter how he felt. Although he was an All-Star, he did the little things day after day and challenged his teammates to do the same. A respected leader on and off the field, Jeter has served as captain of the Yankees since 2003. Nicknamed "Captain Clutch," he came through when his team needed him the most. He played each game as if it were his last. He always hustled whether he was chasing down a fly ball or running out a routine ground ball. We rarely call attention to the virtue of dependability. Unlike courage, it is almost an invisible virtue, which is far more likely to be missed than noticed. The most dependable people in our lives never ask for attention or accolades. They do what is asked of them humbly and with a smile. They make those around them better. Baseball is a sport that rewards dependability. Players who display only fleeting moments of brilliance are easily forgotten in seasons that can run from April to November.
We should be grateful to Derek Jeter and to baseball for giving us an opportunity to celebrate not only the personal achievements of a great baseball player but the virtue of dependability. Rightly honored for his many achievements over a long career, he will be remembered as much for who he was as for how he played. In an era marred by the antics of overindulged celebrities and rampant steroid use, he maintained his integrity. He took responsibility for his teammates as well as himself; and reminded us of why, in spite of so much evidence to the contrary, we believe that sports can build character.