"When he came off the field after the third out, after he did it, I went out there, and he was still emotional about it," Jorge Posada said. "So that tells you [the moment] was still with him."
It was with Posada, too, as Jeter's best friend and closest teammate got goose bumps when both benches cleared to take part in the rousing ovation given by the crowd of 45,848 at the new Yankee Stadium.
Entering the game hitless in his previous 12 at-bats, Jeter laid down a bunt single on the first pitch he saw to move within two hits of Gehrig, then shot a double over center fielder B.J. Upton's head in the fifth inning for his second hit of the night. Jeter's seventh-inning single gave him hit No. 2,721, and Posada's three-run homer put the Yankees ahead of the Rays, 4-2, also the final score.
"It would be tough to lose a game when he ties Lou Gehrig," Posada said. "So we needed to win this one."
As for his role in the classic game, Posada said his teammates gave him some ribbing for trying to outdo Jeter on the historic night. But there was no upstaging a record that had stood for 72 years within this storied franchise.
All-time Yankees hit leaders
|Derek Jeter passed Lou Gehrig and now has the most hits by a Yankee. Here are the top 10 Yankees leaders in hits.|
"There's been an awful lot of ballplayers to come through this organization, and to think he's tied for the most hits, he's obviously going to break the record -- it's just incredible," left-hander Andy Pettitte said. "It couldn't happen to a better person. He's a great teammate, a great friend. He's done things the right way. He's a great leader on this team, so you can't say enough about Derek Jeter."
For veteran players like Pettitte, Posada and Mariano Rivera, it was equal parts gratifying and mind-blowing to see a longtime friend and humble leader tie Gehrig's record.
"We came up from the Minor Leagues [together] and have been here for all the good times and the bad times and the tough times, and now to reach that milestone is tremendous," Rivera said. "I can recall the first hit that he had and the first save I had. It's amazing. So if I have to say one thing, I guess, thank God for that. Thank God for making us Yankees."
"I know he isn't too crazy about the spotlight," Pettitte said of Jeter. "But he ought to be proud. He ought to enjoy it, and he ought to feel awfully, awfully good about what he's done."