NEW YORK -- "I want to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee."

Those are the immortal words of Joe DiMaggio. They're painted onto a sign hanging in the tunnel that Derek Jeter and the rest of the Yankees jog through to get to the field at Yankee Stadium.

That phrase, however, may mean a little more to the shortstop, who has reached up and tapped the sign before every game since it's been there. But it's not as though he's doing it because he and DiMaggio were close. Nope, not at all.

Jeter said that he was afraid of talking with DiMaggio the few times he saw the legend walk through the clubhouse years ago. So why does he touch the sign?

"Maybe it's a luck thing," Jeter said.

It's worked. On Wednesday against the Red Sox, in an 8-3 win, Jeter passed DiMaggio for fifth place on the Yankees' all-time hits list, with 2,215. Later in the game, he added No. 2,216.

The 2,215th hit came in the second inning off Boston starter Curt Schilling. After the game, Jeter downplayed the feat, saying totals like that will come after playing several years in the Major Leagues with the same team. But the humility with which he spoke was soon balanced by his teammates and manager.

"It's remarkable," Joe Torre said. "I guess he has to go after Bernie Williams next, right? When you start putting those names up on the board, and I was here the whole time Derek was here, it's incredible. He's played 12 years, and every single year, he's been as consistent as you could ask for."

Wednesday's starter, Andy Pettitte, said that Jeter is probably the best player he's ever played with.

Jeter's response?

"Well, he hasn't played with too many."

Jeter said that he'd be lying if he said the hit didn't mean a lot to him, but like a broken record, his comments kept focusing on the team. But the magnitude of the hit -- no matter how much Jeter avoided it -- was played up by his teammates.

In fact, Pettitte's praise had just begun for Jeter, who also extended his hitting streak to 18 consecutive games with a first-inning single. During that time, he's owned a .426 batting average.

"He's an absolute hitting machine," Pettitte said. "He's been doing it for a long time, and he's been getting a lot of hits. ... If you need a big hit, I want him up there. You can't say enough about the job he does."

Yankees' all-time hits leaders
Rank
Player
Hits
1.
Lou Gehrig
2,721
2.
Babe Ruth
2,518
3.
Mickey Mantle
2,415
4.
Bernie Williams
2,336
5.
Derek Jeter
2,216
6.
Joe DiMaggio
2,214
7.
Don Mattingly
2,153
8.
Yogi Berra
2,148

Alex Rodriguez also praised the man with whom he shares the left side of the Yankees' infield.

"That's awesome," Rodriguez said. "I mean, he's amazing. He just keeps getting better and better every year."