Prior to the final game of against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees held a special ceremony to honor Alex Rodriguez for becoming the 29th member of the major leagues to join the 3,000 Hit Club.
The actual hit actually took place almost three months ago on June 19th. With two out and no men on base in the first inning, Rodriguez homered on a 95 mph fastball thrown by Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. Only the third player to hit a home run as his 3,000 major league hit, he was preceded by Derek Jeter and Wade Boggs.
“It’s a magical number, 3,000,” Rodriguez said after that game. “I’m glad to be in the club. [I‘m] very emotional, overwhelmed. I’m so happy to do it here [Yankee Stadium] in front of the fans. I was especially happy my two daughters were here.”
On Sunday, Rodriguez was joined on the field by his two daughters, his mother, his sister and his brother. A video was shown of him at various important moments of his career, achieving his first major league hit, his 1,000th hit, his 2,000th hit and his 3,000th. Also on the screen was his first manager in the majors, with Seattle, Lou Piniella, who offered his congratulations.
Rodriguez received two gifts from the Yankees, a Waterford crystal piece presented by the Yankees COO Lonn Trost, and a commemorative ring and a ring for each of his daughters, which were presented by the Yankees Managing Partner Hal Steinbrenner.
You have to wonder how anxious the Yankees were to honor A-Rod. A two month delay, the briefness of the ceremony, 10-15 minutes, and the absence of any former or current teammate speaking or on the field gave the impression that the Yankees were forced into doing this rather than wanting to honor their player.
Yet, much has changed since 2014 and early 2015 in how the public perceives Rodriguez. After not playing in 2015 and very little in 2014, A-Rod has become the most effective batter on the team. He had two hits and a RBI in Sunday’s win over Toronto with his family in the ballpark. He has belted 31 homers this season, the most he has hit since 2008. He is consistently cheered by the fans in attendance. Perhaps a message was sent by the Yankees to Rodriguez by the presence of Trost and Steinbrenner bearing him gifts at his celebration.