Remember when Derek Jeter got his 3,000th career hit, a home run off the Rays' David Price? Well, Ray Navarrete remembers it too, because Jeter is his favorite player. He just never thought he'd have that kind of moment in his own career with the Ducks.
With the Ducks trailing by three runs in the bottom of the seventh Saturday against York, Navarrete blasted a solo homer to left for his 1,000th career hit. That made him the second player in Atlantic League history to record 1,000 hits, and Adam Bailey later hit a walk-off three-run homer to cap a four-run ninth in an 8-6 victory.
Navarrete, the fan favorite in his franchise-record eighth season with the Ducks, had three hits in the game.
"I'm always very careful to say this because Jeter is my favorite player and let's be real, my talent and level is a little different than his,'' he said, "but people have said over the years that I've become the face of the Ducks and that I'm the Derek Jeter of Long Island, and I think, how ironic that a big moment in the minor leagues is getting to 1,000 hits and mine happened to be on a home run, too, in front of a sellout crowd in our home stadium, so it was a special moment.
Navarrete, 35, entered the game with 997 career hits. He doubled, singled and struck out in his first three at-bats before his blast in the seventh.
"I was just hoping I could find the barrel and maybe a ground ball would go up the middle or something," Navarrete said. "But it was awesome. The fireworks were popping behind me, and this place has always taken care of me, so it's special that it happened here."
Navarrete holds Ducks records for hits, home runs, RBIs, runs scored, doubles and games played. He helped lead the Ducks to the league championship last season and has made Atlantic League All-Star teams. In Atlantic League history, he sits behind only Somerset's Jeff Nettles -- the son of former Yankee Graig Nettles -- in hits (1,052 to 1,002) and games played (1,006 to 903).
Navarrete, who missed the entire month of June with plantar fasciitis, said he decided before the start of the season to retire after this year, meaning that with 39 games remaining in the regular season, he'll likely fall short of Nettles' hits record.
"I would've been able to make a run at that record if I didn't get hurt, but more than likely, I'm not going to get a chance to do that," Navarrete said. "Jeff Nettles is the greatest player this league has ever seen and people have compared me to him, and that means a lot to me.
"It's pretty cool that I'll be the name right after his on all those lists, and I'm perfectly fine with it and that's how it's supposed to be. I have enough numbers here on Long Island that I'm proud of . . . I'm going to enjoy these last games and do everything I can to help us win the championship again and go out the right way with two trophies."