By CBS "Sunday Morning" correspondent Bill Geist
Any day now, Yankees' shortstop Derek Jeter will connect for his 3,000th base hit.
When Ty Cobb hit his 4,000th, they didn't even give him the ball. When Pete Rose set the all-time record of 4,256 hits, there was celebration, sure - but that was before the current ka-ching dynasty.
The Derek Jeter 3000th hit memorabilia blitz is so big it has a name: "DJ3K" (reminiscent of Y2K except this time you don't have to buy a generator and a machine gun), offering everything from Jeter refrigerator magnets and cell phone covers to lanyards and wall murals ... not to mention "authenticated game-used dirt."
After hit 3K, marauding mercenaries will loot and pillage all things Jeter.
The Yankees get the bases (bases stepped on in normal games by relative nobodies go for $1,249.99 on the memorabilia market), and lay claim to Jeter's uniform (his #2 "game-worn" jersey from a normal game goes for $15,000).
Jeter maintains control of his cleats, wristbands, batting gloves, beads of sweat, toothbrush, and tires on his car. (A single Derek Jeter sock from no particular game is currently priced at $500.)
But my favorites are the dirt souvenirs. After the historic game, a groundskeeper will fill buckets with dirt from both Jeter's batter's box and his shortstop area, under the watchful eyes of a Major League Baseball Authenticator.
A mega-memorabilia partner with the Yankees will spoon the precious dirt into key chains and drink coasters and onto bats, small plaques and large "dirt collages" ($1,500).
On some collages they'll spray dirt directly onto Jeter action photos, giving them a lifelike 3-D effect. I'm surprised the Museum of Modern Art hasn't picked up on this movement.
But why do the Yankees stop with a few measly gallons of surface dirt? Class? I mean, you could get into that batter's box with a 28" Center Rock low-profile pneumatic-based drill and bore down 2,000 feet! That's what they did for those trapped Chilean miners. (Say, you don't suppose they saved any of that dirt, do you?)
It seems that in this hour of devout Orthodox Jeterism, perhaps I might be able to sell the TV I watched his 3,000th on; the easy chair I was sitting in; the T-shirt and boxers I was wearing; and the Budweiser can I held. I think we're talking low two figures here, if I can bear to part with these mementos.
Most fans cannot part with their collectibles. To them, they are religious artifacts to be placed in little shrines in their homes. "Hey, look at this great seat-back I got from the old stadium for just $275."
All of this is fine, so long as all you sock- and dirt- and seat-back-collectors understand: You are not normal. Do not talk about your Derek Jeter dirt collage on a first Match.com date. Or in job interviews (particularly in Boston, or anywhere else for that matter) ... or ever, on any occasion.
I once drove alone from Chicago to Augusta, Ga. I was bored and thought it would be funny to collect dirt from the states I passed through and paste it on a map, which I gave to my girlfriend. Too much.