Jeter's consistency and PED-free play in baseball's steroid age have inspired a respect from longtime Yankee fans that's both personal and
professional. Rich Rubin, a retired music teacher who grew up playing stickball on the streets of the south Bronx and attended his first Yankee game in
1959, called Jeter a "pure" baseball talent. "Jeter plays the right way," he said. "I love him for what he is and what he represents."
Rubin's favorite Yankee is former catcher Thurman Munson, an opinion shared by many at Stan's. Casual fans may find the comparison surprising—Jeter
is a future Hall of Famer and 12-time All-Star, while Munson is most famous for his tragic death in the middle of the 1979 season and his running feud
with Reggie Jackson. But like Jeter, Munson was a Yankee captain who squeezed everything he could out of his natural athletic talents and separated
himself from his peers with consistent displays of supreme effort. Jeter's iconic defensive plays—his backhand flip and leaping catch in the 2001 ALDS and his catch-and-headlong dive into the
stands in a 2004 regular season game against the Boston Red Sox—were plays of grit rather than skill.
Like Jeter, Munson was also a company man, who spent his entire career with the Yankees and won the fans' undying loyalty for it. But Munson died
before his production slipped off dramatically, and even the most virulent Jeter supporters struggled to discuss life after 3,000 for the Yankee
captain. Jeter hit a career-low .270 last year and has barely kept his average above .250 this season. Even his most ardent supporters have been forced to admit that the 37-year-old shortstop is not the player he once was. "I love Jeet—always will" said another Stan's regular. "But when he
gets up now with first and second and nobody out, I almost root for him to strike out so he doesn't ground into a double play."
He paused, as if struggling to connect that sentiment to his overall opinion of the Yankee captain. "You know what though? Jeter could bat .200 and
I'll still be for him. He's the kind of player I'd try to be."
Saturday dawned warm and clear, and the crowd at Stan's was expectant. With the driving beat of Blur's "Song 2" serving as a soundtrack, Jeter opened
the bottom of the first inning with hit 2,999, a chopper through the hole that produced t win roars from the bar and the stadium a quarter of a mile
Half an hour later, the bar was packed to the brim thanks to a late-arriving 21st birthday party and a stream of fans who glued themselves
to the nearest TV. Jeter battled Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price to a 3-2 count, then fouled off two pitches as the anticipation in the bar
grew palpable. Then Price threw a hanging breaking ball that Jeter crushed into the left-field seats, and the hundred people at the bar turned
Rendino's prediction of insanity into reality.
Later, after the high-fiving and chanting and toasting and before Jeter finished off an epic 5-for-5 hitting performance with the game-winning single
in the eighth inning, the waiters served a cake commemorating the accomplishment. As the diehards dug in, the staff at Stan's
enjoyed the moment.
"To get a home run for the 3,000th hit, it couldn't have been any better," Holz said.