History in the making

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

This is an old one -- as in, 17 years old.

And it will grow older, passed on from one New York Yankees generation to another.

Much like the way Boston Red Sox fans tell about Mookie Wilson's grounder going through Bill Buckner's legs and wondering why defensive replacement Dave Stapleton wasn't on the field.

The Yankees tale doesn't deal with a creaky-legged first baseman allowing a dribbler to go through the wickets during a World Series game and another eventual heartbreak for Red Sox nation.

This is told and re-told because it changed the face of the organization and restored its old glory.

They'll tell the story again some sunny July afternoon, oh, nine or 10 years from now, in front of 50,000 fans, 40,000 wearing pinstripes, seated on folding chairs and blankets on a hill on the edge of Cooperstown, N.Y.

Early in the 1992 season, the alleged braintrust of the Yankees gathered to discuss the June amateur draft.

Under then-rookie manager Buck Showalter, the Yanks were on their way an 86-loss season. They would finish tied with the pre-Jacobs Field Cleveland Indians for fourth place, 20 games behind the American League East champion Blue Jays.

Andy Stankiewicz and Randy Velarde each started 78 games at shortstop for the Yankees.

Yankees scouting director Bill Livesey went around the table that day, asking his scouts questions about possible draft choices. Drafting players is only half of the equation. Signing is the more difficult part.

Selections were pondered inside the draft room, names arranged and re-arranged on the draft board.

Eventually, this exchange took place between Livesey and Dick Groch, the Yanks' midwest scout.

Livesey: "Does this kid have a school?"

Groch: "Yes, he's signed a letter of intent with the University of Michigan?"

Livesey: "Will he go there?"

Groch: "No, he's not going to Michigan."

Livesey: "Does he have another school? Michigan State?

Groch: "No, he's not going to Michigan State."

Livesey: "Well, where is this kid going to go?"

Groch: "Cooperstown."

The kid, Derek Jeter, from Kalamazoo, Mich., shunned the Michigan scholarship and took the Yanks' $850,000 US signing bonus to turn pro.

Jeter broke in on May 29, 1995, flying out to right in his first at-bat against Rafael Carmona. He went hitless in five at-bats during the 12-inning, 8-7 loss to the Mariners at the Kingdome in Seattle.

Tony Fernandez started 101 games for the Yanks that season, Jeter 14. But in 1996, Jeter was the everyday shortstop as the Yanks won their first World Series since 1978.

DIVING INTO SEATS

It was the start of four championships in five years for the Yanks and their young shortstop, who made his mark diving into the third row of seats behind third, two-out singles, home runs that mattered and ranging to his right where he'd jump, twirl and bounce a perfect throw across the diamond to first.

Jeter was MVP of the 2000 World Series, has 10 all-star selections and three Gold Gloves. When he comes to the plate, a tape of Yankee Stadium P.A. man Bob Sheppard is played: "Now batting: DEH-rick JEE-tuh."

He made a backhanded flip to the plate to erase Jeremy Giambi of the Oakland Money Ballers and it was his homer that Jeffrey Maier reached over and knocked away.

And sometime next week, Jeter, who has more hits than any shortstop, will surpass Lou Gehrig for the Yanks' career hit mark of 2,721, accumulated over 17 seasons.

This is the 15th season for the 35-year-old Jeter, who is headed for his first AL most valuable player award.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have not won the World Series since beating the Mets in 2000. That is about to change and Jeter is a key reason why.

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THE BOOK ON ...

BRANDON LEAGUE -- Blue Jays RP

WHAT A MAJOR LEAGUE SCOUT SAYS: "He has always been a perplexing guy to me. In Texas the other night, in the doubleheader, he was 94-95 m.p.h. He walks two and gives up two runs, one earned. He should be better than that.

"Then, I see him against the Yankees and he is 96-97 m.p.h., and he's clean. I know guys aren't machines, but it's like: 'Oh, it's the Yankees, we'll dial it up a notch.' That's been the case with Toronto for some time. They get excited when they play Boston or the Yankees. Other teams? It's like: 'Game today?' Alex Rios was like that, too."

WEAKNESS: "When you have that kind of an arm you expect better than five losses and seven blown saves. Maybe that's just me, but he can lose his focus."

STRENGTHS: "The good Lord blessed his arm. He can be overpowering. Look at his strikeouts to innings. A lot of teams asked for him this year and last. I wouldn't deal him. Some day the light is going to go on, he'll figure it out."

Season Stats

G W-L INNS H BB SO SV ERA WHIP

56 2-5 63.2 64 20 66 0 5.23 1.32

Sun Rating: 2 out of 5

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THE TOP 5

TRIBE TRIBULATIONS

So, what kind of year has it been for the Cleveland Indians?

1. JHONNY PERALTA

Named nominee for the Clemente Award on Wednesday, he commits three errors and, with the tying run on in the ninth, hits into a game-ending double play in loss.

2. CLIFF LEE

The LHP's first start after being dealt to the Phillies: Nine innings, one run, four hits. Carlos Carrasco's first start for the Indians: Three innings, six runs, nine hits (three HRs).

3. JASON KNAPP

Of the four players they acquired for Lee, he has highest ceiling. After two appearances at class-A, he was shut down (sore shoulder).

4. FAUSTO CARMONA

Went more than three months between wins -- May 14 against Tampa and not again until Aug. 23 against Seattle.

5. CHRIS GIMENEZ

Catcher hit .051 in August, .182 in July and .111 since July 1. For the season, he's hitting .158, .252 on-base, .267 slugging. Yikes!

NORTHERN LIGHTS

JOHN BLACKEY, SQUAMISH, B.C.

RHP, CLASS-A SALEM

Blackey had two wins and a save, working 52/3 innings and allowing a run for the week. The Boston Red Sox farmhand walked one and fanned five.

- Runners-up: Jordan Lennerton, .500, homer, three RBIs, Langley, B.C. class-A West Michigan (Tigers); Jeremiah Sammy, .429, Markham, class-A Tri City (Rockies); Scott Thorman, .424, three homers, 10 RBIs, Cambridge, triple-A Omaha (Royals); Tyson Gillies, .417, Langley, class-A High Desert (Mariners); Luke Carlin, .364, Aylmer, Que. triple-A Reno (Diamondbacks),


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