Monday, July 18, 2011

J-Speaks: Yankees’ Short Stop Reaches Major Milestone

There are very few professional athletes who reach the kind of heights that put them into the category of legend. The New York Yankees have a player of such magnitude in their proud shortstop that is referred to today as “The Captain.” He has played a major role in helping the “Bronx Bombers” winning four World Series crowns in the last 17 years. Along the way he has made amazing plays in the regular season as well as in the postseason. He has won the hearts of New Yorkers as well as baseball fans and sports fans across the country and even the world. On Saturday July 9th versus the team’s American League Division rival the Tampa Bay Rays, this proud player joined an exclusive group of Major League Baseball (MLB) players and he did it in dramatic fashion.

In the bottom of the third inning, Yankees Shortstop Derek Jeter hit his third home run of the season that tied the contest at 1-1. That hit was the 3,000 of his proud Hall of Fame career which made him the 28th player in MLB history to reach that milestone.

On the day, “The Captain” went 5-for-5 at the plate, scoring two runs and had the game-winning RBI in the “Bronx Bombers” 5-4 victory over the Rays. The five hits Jeter had are the most by any player at the New Yankee Stadium.

“I wasn’t sure it was going to be a home run,” Jeter said after the game.

“I’ve hit some home runs. I was hoping but afterwards it was relief. I was excited, but to be honest with you I was pretty relieved.”

He became just the 11th player of those 28 to have all 3,000 hits with one team. He joins Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals (3,630); Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox (3,149); Cal Ripken, Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles (3,184); George Brett of the Kansas City Royals (3,154); Robin Yount of the Milwaukee Brewers (3,142 s); Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres (3,141); Cap Anson of the Chicago Cubs, known back then as the Chicago White Stockings (3,081); Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros (3,060); Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers (3,007); Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates (3,000).

To put this date in an even greater perspective, Jeter became the first Yankee ever in their proud history to achieve 3,000 hits and became just the second player ever to accomplish this feet with a home run. The only other player to do that was former Yankee Wade Boggs nearly 12 years ago as a member of Tampa Bay when they were nicknamed the “Devil Rays in front of the home fans at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.

Boggs who was Jeter’s teammate when he was a rookie and they helped the Yankees to the title in a statement said, “I had an opportunity to play with Derek Jeter when he was a rookie in and I had no doubts that Derek would reach this milestone. He is a very consistent player and he never deviated from the game. When you stay healthy, and you are consistent and compile a lengthy career like Derek has done. You have the opportunity to reach that 3,000 plateau. Reaching the 3,000 hit mark is another piece of the legacy that Derek has created. It won’t be too long now before we are on the Veranda in Cooperstown at the Otesaga Hotel celebrating his induction to the Hall of Fame.”

This great day was more than just about this great player reaching a milestone that only a few have reached. This day really was a capsule of what Derek Jeter’s career and life not just as a Yankee but as a person.

From the first days that he was exposed to baseball, Jeter who was born in North Arlington NJ and raised in Kalamazoo, MI all he wanted to do was to play for the Yankees.

A lot of that inspiration came from when he was a kid when in the summer he and his younger sister Sharlee would stay with their grandparents in New Jersey and they would take them to see the Yankees at the old Stadium.

The former Kalamazoo Central High star and later Hall of Famer’s dream came true back in 1992 when he was drafted in Round 1 as the 6th overall.

Jeter would make his debut in “Pinstripes” at the Seattle Mariners on May 29. 1995. His first major league hit came the next day, a single to left side off Tim Belcher.

The rest as they say is history. That history is composed of 2,213 singles, 481 doubles, 62 triples and 236 home runs. It also includes being the all-time leader in Yankees history in hits in the regular season, which he became when he passed Lou Gehrig last year and he is the all-time leader and the all-time leader in postseason hits in MLB history.

“You can’t come up with the words. To recognize that he did this and started this whole process back in 1992 is rewarding. It almost got a parental feeling to it,” MLB long time scout Dick Groch said to Kim Jones.

More than anything what Jeter has accomplished on the diamond is one that has gained in respect by the fans and his opponents.

When Jeter hit his third dinger of 2011, he got a not just a standing ovation from the crowd of 48,103, but the Rays players stood in their dug out and showed their respect. One of those teammates was former Yankee teammate Johnny Damon. When Jeter made his way across the diamond, Rays’ first baseman Casey Kotchman tipped his cap to Jeter on his historic accomplishment. No one though was more proud of this moment and understood what it meant than Jeter’s family and friends that were in attendance.

“I mean it was just tremendous,” Dr. Charles Jeter said to YES Network sideline reporter Kim Jones. “I really can’t describe how I was feeling then…To have Derek to come up there, were pulling for him and he hits a home run on the 3,000 hit. I just can’t describe it.”

While to the New York faithful this is something to be amazed by it is something that is no surprise to his teammates and his manager.

“I think he enjoys that moment He looks forward to it,” Yankees DH Jorge Posada said after the game.

“I don’t expect anything less than that from him because he takes the challenge,” said Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

“I don’t think you could script it any better,” Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi said after the game. “To get your 3,000 hit and a home run that tied the game and to get 3,003, a game-winner it just remarkable the day that he had.” 

Taking the challenge is something that Jeter has made a staple for all 17 years of his career and this game was no different.

His homer not only got him into the history books, but it also tied the score at 1-1. His 5th and final hit scored the game-winning run and as we have all come to know about Jeter, winning is the only thing that matters at the end of the day.

“It would have been really, really awkward to be out there doing interviews and waiving to the crowd after the game if we would’ve lost. So that was going through my head in my last at bat there. It’s nice obviously to get a hit, but we needed to win this game,” Jeter said.  

Information and statistics are courtesy of 7/9/11 1 p.m. game of the Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees on Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES) with Michael Kay and John Flaherty; 7/9/11 11 p.m. edition of CBS 2 News at 11 with Cindy Hsu, reports from sports anchor Otis Livingston and Dave Carlin; 7/9/11 11 p.m. edition of Eyewitness News with Sandra Bookman and Joe Torres, report from sports anchors Laura Behnke and Rob Powers; 7/10/11 6 a.m. edition of Eyewitness News This Morning with Phil Lipof and Michelle Charlesworth, report from sports anchors Laura Behnke and Rob Powers;

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

J-Speaks: An Icon and Trailblazer in Politics Passes

It does not take a lot of time to make change. Sometimes it takes someone opening their mouth and making a statement. Other times it takes doing something that no one would ever do. On the night July 19, 1984 in San Francisco when a former Senator (D-MN) and former Vice President and a little known congresswoman from New York took the stage and accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for the highest office in the land. This election broke many barriers and showed the nation that the female gender can stand on the high platform of politics and do it with grace, courage and confidence. Back in March we said goodbye to the lady that broke that political glass ceiling.

On Saturday Mar. 26 our nation said goodbye to former congresswoman of New York’s 9th District in Queens Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY), who passed away at Massachusetts General Hospital from multiple myeloma, an incurable form of bone marrow cancer that she was diagnosed with in 1998. She was 75 years old. When she was diagnosed at the time, she was told by doctors that she would only live for three more years, five years at the most. She fought the cancer for twelve years before it took her life.

A private funeral service was held for Ferraro at the Church of St. Vincent Ferraro on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Earlier in the week back in March, a public wake was held for Ferraro at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home also located on the Upper East Side.  

She is survived by her husband of 50 years real estate developer and owner P. Zaccaro and Company John Zaccaro, their three children Donna, John Jr. and Laura and eight grandchildren.

“Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life, waging battles big and small, public and personal will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed,” the family said in a statement back in March.

Ferraro was born in Newburgh, NY on Aug. 26, 1935. She was the daughter of Antonetta L. a first generation Italian American seamstress and Dominick Ferraro also an Italian immigrant and owner of two restaurants.

Ferraro moved to the South Bronx when her father passed away from a heart attack in May 1944 and the family lost the businesses he owned.

After graduating from Marymount Academy in Tarrytown, NY in 1952, Ferraro moved on to Marymount Manhattan College on scholarship and worked two to three jobs to pay for her education. Four years later Bachelor’s of Arts in English. She also passed the city examination to receive her license to be a school teacher.

She would teach 2nd grade at P.S. 85, The Judge Charles J. Vallone School in Astoria, Queens.

Despite all of what she accomplished, she was not satisfied so she decided to attend Fordham University Law School at night and earned her Juris Doctor degree with honors in 1960. When she graduated, she was only one of two women in her class out of 179 people.

After a period of time working part-time as a civil lawyer for her husband’s real estate firm for 13 years and doing  some pro bono work for women in family court, Ferraro’s big political break came in January of 1974 when she was appointed Assistant District Attorney for Queens by her cousin, District Attorney Nicholas Zaccaro. This happened at a time when women prosecutors were uncommon.

Ferraro continued her rise when she was assigned to the first Special Victims Bureau the following year where she supervised cases dealing with sex crimes, domestic violence, child and senior abuse.

In her time with the D.A., Ferraro gained a reputation as a no nonsense prosecutor who was fair when it came to plea bargains. She even conducted some of the trials the Special Victims Unit took  herself and convinced the juries she argued in front of to rule in her favor.   

Ferraro grew very frustrated by the fact that she was being paid less than her male counterparts and found the nature of her cases she dealt with deliberating and thought about running for legislative office.

She ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 9th Congressional District in Queens in 1978. The main issues she ran on were law and order, support for the elderly, and neighborhood preservation.

Ferraro treaded very carefully in this campaign because she was running for election in an area of New York that was known for their conservative views.

She put an emphasis in her campaign that she was not a liberal and that enabled her to win the primary by 53 percent of the three-way vote over City Councilman Thomas J. Manton and then beat Alfred A. DelliBovi in the general election by 10 percent point margin.

She would represent New York’s 9th District for three terms, but Ferraro’s biggest moment in politics was about to come.

On July 12, 1984, former Vice President and former Senator (D-MN) Walter Mondale tapped Ferraro to be his Vice Presidential candidate.

Ferraro not only became the first woman and first Italian American to run on a major political party’s national ticket in the United States.

Her July 19, 1984 nomination acceptance at the Democratic National Convention that night in San Francisco, CA was one of the most emotional moments in our country.

In an acceptance speech that lasted eight minutes, Ferraro gave a speech that brought tears and cheers that changed the landscape of political history in the U.S.

“My name is Geraldine Ferraro. I stand before you to proclaim tonight America is the land where dreams can come true for all of us,” she said that night. “There is no are no doors we cannot unlock.”

One person this moment touched was ABC News contributor Cokie Roberts who was their reporting the event.

“Nobody who was there would forget, particularly any females who were there,” Roberts said.

“There she came out on the state this little figure in white on the podium and the women in the crowd were crying, were screaming, were incredibly excited and there I was as a reporter trying to be very stern and solemn, but I do remember going over to a colleague and squeezing her hands so rapturously because we had to play it straight, but it was a very exciting moment in women’s history.”

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said, “The drumbeat that Geraldine Ferraro began that day in July will continue for a long time to come.”

What really made this moment special is how Ferraro handled herself throughout the campaign. She stood tall and never back down. She proved in every interview on shows like NBC’s “Meet the Press,” to debates against then candidate George Herbert Walker Bush.

In her debate with Bush when he said to Ferraro, “Let me help you with the difference Miss. Ferraro between Iran and The Embassy and Lebanon.”

Ferraro stated back to Bush, “Let me just say first of all that I almost resent Vice President Bush your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.”

Back on the Oct. 14, 1984 edition of “Meet the Press” Ferraro was asked would she be able to push the nuclear button if necessary.

Her answer, “I can do whatever is necessary in order to protect the security of this country.”

Unfortunately Mondale and Ferraro lost to Ronald Reagan and Bush, who won their re-election bid and they did it in a landslide on Nov. 6, 1984. They won 59 percent of the popular vote and received 55 percent of the women’s vote.

Things did not get better the next year for Ferraro as her husband was convicted of financial fraud, which became an issue during the campaign. He was sent to do 150 hours of community service. 

Politically, Ferraro ran twice for Senate representing New York, but lost and in 1998, she was diagnosed with an incurable form of bone marrow cancer.

While many would have let this kind of news devastate them and kill them in that moment, Ferraro kept pushing forward.

She in the years to come would become a writer, a political commentator and a grandmother.

“I don’t want to have the big C on my face because that’s not me,” Ferraro said.
“I’m still gonna go on and do the things I do.”

What she did more than anything is she showed our nation that women deserve a place in politics and that they can do the job that their male counterparts can even better.

Today there are 17 female Senators and between 40 and 50 in the House of Representatives.

As Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said back in late March, “she broke those barriers and made it all possible.”

“All those successes that she made makes my career possible,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “Makes the career of every young woman who wants to do public service possible.”

President Obama made maybe the boldest statement about what Ferraro’s career means when he said that his daughters “Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live.”

Geraldine Ferraro was more than just a woman who was a politician. She was a trailblazer that showed our nation that a woman can be anything she wants to be when she sets her mind to it. She showed us what it meant to take the challenge and do something many thought she could not do. In her darkest moment is when her sole shined the brightest and uplifted many of us at that time when it was necessary.

When it comes down to it, Geraldine Ferraro displayed the true meaning of it is not the size of the dog in the fight. It is the size of the fight in the dog.
Information and quotations are courtesy of 3/26/11 6:30 p.m. edition of “ABC World News” with David Muir; 3/26/11 6:30 p.m. edition of “NBC Nightly News” with Lester Holt, report was from Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O’ Donnell; 3/26/11 6 p.m. edition of 4 NY News at 6 with Shiba Russell, report from Chris Glorioso; 3/27/11 8 a.m. edition of “Good Morning America” with Biana Golodryga and Dan Harris, report from Linsey Davis; 3/27/11 9 a.m. edition of Eyewitness News This Morning with Phil Lipof and Michelle Charlesworth, report from Darla Miles and Jaime Roth; 3/28/11 5 p.m. edition of Eyewitness News with Diana Williams and Sade Baderinwa; 3/29/11 & 3/31/11 6 p.m. edition of CBS 2 News at 6 p.m. with Don Dahler and Dana Tyler;