When New York Yankees slugger Derek Jeter turned 38 on Tuesday, he had 3,183 hits, more than Pete Rose on the day he turned 38 (3,170).
Rose kept playing and playing and finally retired at 45 with a record 4,256 hits.
It’s ludicrous to suggest Jeter would play seven more seasons. He’s a shortstop, and it would be tough to convert to a corner infielder with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez signed through 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Then again, he is Derek Jeter.
"Whether it’s reachable, I don’t know, but Jeter is one of the few people in this game who literally could do anything when he puts his mind to it," said Oakland A’s outfielder Jonny Gomes, who with Tampa Bay played in the Yankees’ division from ’03 to ’08.
Would Jeter need to switch positions to have a crack at Rose?
"I don’t think he’d have to switch positions," Gomes said. "I think he’d have to add a title: player-manager."
Rose was the Cincinnati Reds’ player-manager his final three seasons. Gomes wasn’t projecting a departure for Joe Girardi as much as emphasizing the overall value of Jeter and that, as player-manager, he could determine the extent of his playing time without hindering the team.
"One of the most special people I’ve ever met," Gomes said. "All I know is, it will be very, very awkward the day he’s not in pinstripes."
Jeter has 97 hits, a league high until Saturday, and is on target to finish the season with 206, a total of 3,295. Averaging 160 hits a year through age 45 would put him in Rose territory.
For now, 3,500 is realistic, and only five men had more: Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker.