Dodgers, Tony Gwynn react to Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit
The Dodgers had a hitters’ meeting in the clubhouse dining room at 11 a.m. on Saturday, but most of the participants were three minutes late.
The reason: They were in the locker room watching Derek Jeter get his 3,000th hit.
“I was late too,” said Manager Don Mattingly, Jeter’s former teammate and coach on the New York Yankees.
The Dodgers’ clubhouse erupted in cheers when Jeter reached the milestone by taking David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays deep. Matt Kemp shouted and jumped.
On this day, the Dodgers were visited by a member of the 3,000-hit club, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who was in town as part of the San Diego Padres’ broadcast team. Gwynn’s son, Tony Gwynn Jr., will start in left field and bat leadoff on Saturday.
“What we just saw on that, that 3,000th hit, is why he’s such a good hitter,” the elder Gwynn said. “He hit a breaking ball. Awesome.”
Gwynn said he understood what Jeter was experiencing.
“I know what he’s thinking,” he said. “I know what he’s feeling. You’re the center of attention, whether you want to be or not. Whether you like it that way or not, you are. The focus is only on that and that’s it, nothing else. I know for him it sucks because he wants to win. But everyone’s there to see you get hits. They ain’t there to see you hit a line drive or hit a ball hard. So the thinking kind of changes a little bit.”
“What hits you at that point is, ‘Now these guys will quit following me, quit asking me questions, quit looking [at] my numbers against the next guy,” he said. “I’m sure that’s why relief is such a nice feeling because you know things are going to get back to normal.”
He said the joy of achievement didn’t hit him until later.
Of how Jeter reached the mark, Gwynn said, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to hit a home run. I don’t think I would have been able to keep a straight face all the way around the bases.”
-- Dylan Hernandez
Photo: New York Yankees' Derek Jeter hits a home run for his 3,000th career hit during the third inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 9, 2011, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Credit: Bill Kostroun / AP