Jeter, Derek 1974–
Derek Jeter 1974–
New York’s Son
With outstanding performances in his first six years as a professional—including being named Most Valuable Player in baseball’s 2000 World Series—the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter took little time vaulting himself to the ranks of baseball’s superstars. A season-by-season improvement at the plate, outstanding fielding at shortstop and clutch hitting in postseason and World Series play has helped Jeter become one of the most recognized names in modern baseball.
Derek Jeter was born on June 26, 1974 in Pequannok, New Jersey to Charles and Dorothy Jeter. The Jeter family later moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Jeter’s passion for baseball developed at an early age. In an interview with Mike Jerchower of acclaim.com, Jeter said his memory playing baseball goes back quite a way. “As long as I can remember,” Jeter said. “Maybe five, six. Pony League, Little League...tee ball.” Following an impressive high school career at Kalamazoo Central, Jeter was selected by the Yankees in the first round (sixth pick overall) in the June of 1996 free-agent draft. He wasted no time establishing himself as one of the best young players in the league, winning Rookie of the Year honors in his inaugural season. Jeter batted .314 with 183 hits, 78 RBI and 10 home runs. The right-handed hitter also had dexterity in the infield, finishing his rookie year with a .969 fielding percentage. His hitting and fielding accomplishments aside, Jeter completed a rare feat in his first season with the Yankees: he became the first rookie in 34 years to start as shortstop.
In that same rookie year, Jeter was part of a lineup that swept the Atlanta Braves in the World Series, en route to what would become the beginnings of a modern baseball dynasty. In the 1996 World Series, Jeter had five hits and five runs scored. One season later in 1997, Jeter would prove that his rookie year was no aberration. And while the Yankees failed to make it to the World Series, Jeter would continue his progression toward the inner circles of the game’s best players. He batted .291 with 10 home runs and 70 RBI. He cranked 190 runs and had 116 runs scored Again, it was his play at shortstop that was augmenting his solid play at the plate. He finished the year with a .975 fielding percentage with 245 put-outs and assisting in 88 successful double plays.
It was during the 1998 season that Jeter’s became a household name. Jeter finished the season with a then
At a Glance…
Career: New York Yankees, 1995-.
Awards: Rookie of the Year, 1996; led the league in runs scored with 127, 1998; led the league in hits with 219, 1999; All-Star team, 1998 and 1999.
Addresses: Office— The New York Yankees, 161st St. and River Ave., Yankee Stadium, Bronx. NY 10451.
career-high .324 batting average. He hit 19 homers, had 84 RBI, 203 hits, and scored a league-high 127 runs. His aggressive play at shortstop yielded a careerhigh .986 fielding percentage. The Yankees won the World Series that year with a four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres. In those games, Jeter batted .353 with six hits, four runs scored, and one RBI.
His numbers from 1998 not only earned him sports notoriety, but helped pad his bank account as well. Unable to come to an agreement on a new contract, for 1999, Jeter, his agent, and owner George Steinbrenner turned to arbitration, a third-party settling process used when contract negotiations stall. As he does at the plate and in the field, Jeter came out a winner, scoring a one-year, $5 million deal. According to Jet, that figure gave Jeter the highest salary in history for any player with three to four years of service time. It was quite a contrast for Jeter, who was paid $750,000 in 1998. After putting up impressive numbers that year, the team offered him $3.2 million. The three-man arbitration panel rejected that offer, boosting Jeter’s contract by $1.8 million dollars. The story, which also quoted the New York Times, stated that owner George Steinbrenner explained he had no hard feelings toward his All-Star. “I consider Derek part of the family,” Steinbrenner told the Times. “Derek did what he had to do... I have no bad feelings. I’m just a lot poorer.”
All the hype and attention did not go to his head. Rather, Jeter remained focused at the plate and in the field. Those practices were never more evident than in the 1999 season. The shortstop closed out the final season of the 20th century in grand fashion, breaking most of his personal records. He had career-highs in home runs (24), runs scored (134), triples (nine), and RBIs (102). Jeter’s .349 batting average—another career-high—was second-best in American League batting, only 8 points shy of the league leader. His continued success did not go unnoticed. Jeter was announced to his second All-Star roster.
Jeter’s productivity has earned him high praise from coaches and respect from his peers. An article written by Michael Silver, which appears on the web site, geocities.com, points to Jeter’s success in previous years, and his impressive effort in the 1999 season has put him in some elite company. “I though A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners) was way ahead of Jeter, that he was always going to be a better all-around player. But now Jeter has come on and caught him,” said then Milwaukee Brewers manager Phil Garner told Silver.
Silver also draws contrasts to the stereotype of Yankees greats from the past. Where former players who achieved greatness may have been loud and boisterous, Jeter exuded a quiet calm and confidence. Silver wrote, “While most New York’s sports superstars have modeled themselves on fun-loving cocksure Babe Ruth, Jeter springs from the Lou Gehrig branch of the family tree. Shy and protective of his image, Jeter is accessible to fans and the press, but keeps a small circle of close friends. Celebrity has embraced him more than he has embraced it.” In the article, Alex Rodriguez agreed. “I call him a movie star because he runs the town,” Rodriguez said.
The Yankees dominated the league in 1999, closing the year with a 98-64 record heading into the playoffs. They made quick work of American League contenders, going 11-1 in the post-season, en route to their second straight Championship Series appearance. This time, the Yankees were facing the Atlanta Braves. And like their 1996 matchup, the Yankees came out winners, sweeping the Braves in the four-game series. Jeter’s off-season weightlifting regimen paid off and he batted .353 with six hits, four runs scored, and one RBI.
In 2000 the Yankees made their third straight World Series appearance in what was dubbed The Subway Series. For the first time since 1989, two teams from the same geographic area squared off for the championship. As the Yankees faced the New York Mets, loyalty in the state was put to the test early and often. Jeter added some highlights of his own when he lead off game four by hitting a home run off Bobby Jones’s first pitch of the game. In the next at-bat, Jeter tripled and scored, giving the Yankees a three-run lead. The Yankees would win game five to earn its fourth World Series title in five years and its 26th of all time.
Jeter played 2000 in a superstar fashion. He finished with a .339 batting average, 15 home runs, 73 RBI, 119 runs scored and 201 hits. What was even more impressive was Jeter’s staggering success in the postseason, especially in the big games, where he extended his World Series hitting streak to 14 games. Detroit Free Press writer John Lowe pointed to Jeter as the surging team’s obvious leader. “Of all the Yankees, Jeter was going to be the most interesting to watch in Game 4,” Lowe wrote. “He is clearly the Yankees most valuable player, their team leader and most talented star. Jeter is the player most closely associated with the club’s recent dominance, because the Yankees have won the World Series in three of his four previous seasons.”
Jeter’s rise to baseball superstardom has been fast and furious, based on his statistics alone. However, his presence in the community, on the field, and in the clubhouse has solidified him amongst baseball’s best. In previous years, Jeter has proven that he can essentially hit on command, field with the best of them of them, and step up in clutch moments. In professional team sports, that type of exemplary ability and seemingly never-ending skill generally places players in leadership positions amongst their teammates and peers.
While his teammates applaud his efforts on the field, the respective communities where he is from and where he works can certainly praise his hard work off the field. Following his 1996 rookie year, Jeter, along with his father, started the Turn 2 Foundation, an agency geared to steer high-risk kids away from drugs, encourage healthy lifestyles, and encourage academic achievements. The expression “turn two” is baseball lingo for a double play. The group has raised more than $500,000 since 1996. That money has gone to existing substance abuse programs. Turn 2 operates in two cities: Kalamazoo, Jeter’s hometown, and New York City, where he lives on the upper east side.
The non-profit corporation also issues scholarships and grants to promote higher education. In western Michigan, Turn 2 supported programs with Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Derek Jeter Scholarship Fund, Kalamazoo Area Academic Achievement Program and others. In New York, the organization has supported various baseball clinics, the Outreach Project, the Peers influence Peers Partnership, Inc., Phoenix House, programs for hearing-impaired students and many others. In a brief article in Sports Illustrated for Kids, Jeter said the principle behind starting a helpful foundation is simple. “I want to show kids there is another way to go,” he said.
Detroit Free Press, October 26, pg. ID and 6D.
Jet, March 8, 1999, pg. 46.
Sports Illustrated for Kids, January 1, 1999, pg. 18.
Additional information was found on-line at www.acclaim.com,
"Jeter, Derek 1974–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jeter-derek-1974
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