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Derek Jeter’s 10 greatest moments

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(USA Today)

Derek Jeter's announcement that he will be retiring from professional baseball after the 2014 season will give us plenty of time to reflect on the incredible career he has enjoyed over the past 20 years, but there's really no better time to start than the present.

Of course, there are so many milestones and career-defining moments to chronicle that it would be an impossible task to cover them all in the detail they deserve in one fell swoop, but we've selected the ten that we believe stood out the most and define Jeter's legacy the best.

Here's a quick look back at those moments.

• First career hit

There's no end without a beginning. For Jeter, the seal was broken on May 30, 1995 at the Seattle Kingdome. In his second big league game and seventh place appearance, Jeter entered the history books with his first career hit — a seeing-eye single between third base and shortstop off Tim Belcher. Jeter would come around to score his first run on Jim Leyritz’s double later in the inning.

• The Jeffrey Maier home run

Jeter’s first taste of the big leagues was a cup of coffee in 1995. By 1996, he was ready for his close up as the Yankees starting shortstop, and it didn't take him long to establish himself as a big game player. In fact, on opening day, Jeter immediately announced his arrival with his first career home run off Dennis Martinez.

Of course, the biggest moment of Jeter's rookie season was also one of the most controversial moments in postseason history. In ALCS Game 1, 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the right field wall at Yankee Stadium to reel-in Jeter's fly ball. The umpires ruled it a home run, which tied the game and led to Tony Torasco's famous meltdown. The Yankees would go on to win the game in 11 innings and defeat the Baltimore Orioles in five games before winning the first of five World Championships during Jeter's career.

• Wins All-Star game MVP in 2000

Some guy named Alex Rodriguez was elected to start at shortstop for the American League but was unable to play due to injury. That opened the door for Jeter, who ended up taking home MVP honors in the AL's 6-3 victory after going 3 for 3 with two RBIs.

• MVP in Subway World Series

In the first Subway World Series since 1956, Jeter paced the Yankees offense with nine hits in 22 at-bats en route to the series MVP. Perhaps the biggest of those hits came on the first pitch of Game 4 when he deposited Bobby Jones' offering in the left field seats. That set the tone for the Yankees after they dropped Game 3 at Shea Stadium and made Joe Torre look like a genius after elevated Jeter to the lead off position in his batting order. The Yankees would wrap the series up in Game 5.

• The Flip

No single play defines Jeter's legacy better than the famous flip from the 2001 ALCS in Oakland. It was a play that, for all intents and purposes, Jeter had no reason to be involved in, but his instincts and hustle put him in the right place at the right time.

It's a moment that is sown into the fabric of baseball forever. In every postseason that has followed, "The Flip" is relived and replayed as a part of baseball's promotional packages because it's one of those special, once-in-a-generation plays that reminds you what is on the line and how important winning a championship is to the guys on the field.

• Mr. November

As a result of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York City and Washington DC, the 2001 postseason was pushed back one week. That meant the World Series would spill over into November for the first if it went beyond four games. It just so happens that Game 4 itself crossed the threshold thanks in large part to Tino Martinez's ninth inning game-tying home run off Byung-Hyun Kim. That set the stage for Jeter, who in the tenth inning delivered a walk off homer off Kim literally seconds after the clock struck midnight. Announcer Michael Kay immediately anointed Jeter 'Mr. November,' and the nickname is his forever.

• The Dive

On July 1, 2004, Derek Jeter sacrificed life and limb by diving into the stands to make an incredible catch in the top of the 12th inning against the Boston Red Sox. Amazingly, he only walked away with a bloody chin. A temporary wound, but the image as he emerged from the stands will live forever.

• Yankees' all-time hit leader

On Sept. 11, 2009, Jeter passed the great Lou Gehrig as the Yankees all-time hit leader with 2,722. Any time you've earned the right to place your name above Gehrig's, you've done something amazing.

• The 3,000 hit club

Jeter became the 28th player in Major League Baseball history to reach 3,000 career base hits on July 9, 2011. It was done, as one would expect, in typical Jeter style. Jeter entered the day two hits shy, but got the first one out of the way quickly with a lead-off single. He then made history with a solo home run off David Price, becoming only the second player after Wade Boggs to get his 3,000th hit on a long ball. But he didn't stop there, adding three more hits to his total — including the go-ahead RBI in New York's win — to finish a perfect 5-for-5.

• The Return

Even as his career winds down, Jeter still has a flare for the dramatic. In his return from a broken ankle and multiple setbacks on July 28, 2013, Jeter hit the first pitch he saw for a home run.

There may not be many of those moments left in Jeter's career, but if his body holds up you can bet he'll be determined to leave us with one final memory that has us shaking our heads and saying "only Derek Jeter."

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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