"This is probably the best feeling in the world, besides my kid being born," said Brian Trueman, who sported a Jeter jersey on his back and a camera around his neck to capture every second of the historic night.
"I bought tickets in the beginning of the year for [Friday's game], and who would have thought that Derek was going to break the record tonight?" said Trueman, a native of Northport, N.Y. "It's incredible, absolutely incredible. Words almost can't describe."
So the packed house at the new Yankee Stadium settled for applause instead, showering the captain with an ovation that lasted nearly three minutes. Braving streams of rain and winds that gusted up to 25 mph, fans waited out a one-hour, 27-minute rain delay to witness a record that had held for 70 years in the storied New York franchise.
"Tonight was in the cards," said Marco Rotolo, who bought tickets with friend Edwin Senbergs with just minutes to spare. "Believe me, once they took that tarp [off the field], we knew he was going to do it. He tied the record on 9/9, and on 9/11, he was going to break it."
Jeter snapped an 0-for-12 skid in Wednesday's win, going 3-for-4 to tie Gehrig with 2,721 hits. After striking out in the first inning on Friday, he smacked record-breaking hit No. 2,722 two frames later off Orioles starter Chris Tillman. Jeter took a 2-0 pitch down the right-field line, just out of the reach of first baseman Luke Scott, causing the already-standing crowd to erupt.
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.|
"I feel like you should pinch me," said Doreen Harris, of Westchester County. "All my life, I've been watching Derek Jeter and rooting for the Yankees, and to be here is almost surreal. You hear stories about Lou Gehrig, and now I can tell my children and grandchildren stories about Jeter."
After his teammates had cleared the field, Jeter stood alone on first base, doffing his helmet and raising his fist. With one foot firmly planted on the bag, Jeter had solidified his place in the hearts of the Yankees faithful.
"You got to love Jeter, because he always says the right thing and he doesn't even try to," said Rotolo once the stadium-wide "Derek Jeter" chants had subsided. "There's nothing rehearsed or contrived about what he says, he's just on point. He's definitely an easy guy to root for."
Added Senbergs: "He came up all the way through the organization -- that's why he's even easier to root for. You just don't see guys staying at a place that long anymore. Now, we've got to wait and make sure we're here when he hits 3,000."