BRONX, N.Y. — On this date in 2004, Derek Jeter left it all on the field and dove into the stands. The New York Yankees shortstop made one of the more iconic plays of his Hall of Fame career, during an intense July bout with the rival Boston Red Sox.
Our own Andrew Rotondi and Scott Reinen provided a breakdown of the play in chronicling Jeter’s top moments in pinstripes:
“The Dive,” for those not familiar, came during the twelfth inning of a contest locked at 3-3. With Tanyon Sturtze on the bump, runners on first and second with two outs, Bosox right-fielder Trot Nixon lofted a pop to the left side. Sprinting full bore, Jeter tracked down the ball, made the catch in fair territory, and flew into the stands at Yankee Stadium for the third out of the frame.
Granted it was late and in extra innings but it’s kind of incredible no one was sitting there to “cushion the blow” so to speak. Hence, Jeter was bruised and bloodied as he was helped back to the dugout and into the clubhouse. He didn’t want to leave the game either.
It was a sharp contrast to Jeter’s counterpart Nomar Garciaparra, who was in a contract dispute with Boston management and sitting on the bench, favoring his Achilles during a rivalry game and on the cusp of his team being swept.
After Jeter’s exit, manager Joe Torre had to employ some creative strategy with his defensive alignment. Gary Sheffield shifted from right field to third base and Alex Rodriguez from third to shortstop. Those moves yielded mixed results.
Manny Ramirez led off the top of the thirteenth with a homer to left off Sturtze. Then, Sturtze fanned Jason Varitek, ensuing batter Kevin Millar reached on an errant throw by Sheffield. Yet, after a walk to David McCarty, A-Rod displayed why he was a natural shortstop by finishing off a 4-6-3 double play to retire the side.
As the game moved to the home half, the Yankees rallied against reliever Curt Leskanic. With two down, Ruben Sierra kept New York alive with a single to center. Ensuing batter Miguel Cairo squared the game at four with an RBI-double to right. The next batter John Flaherty, pinch-hitting for Sturtze’s spot in the order (the Yankees lost the DH spot when Bernie Williams shifted from DH to CF), victimized the team that drafted him, by driving a single to left to plate Cairo for the 5-4 victory.
The Yanks swept the Sawx and all but put the AL East out of question.
As for Jeter, he was right back in the starting lineup and batting second the next evening against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.