But he’s more than just a great baseball player.
He’s a competitor. He’s nice to his fans. He proves that working hard pays off. And, he loves what he does.
He represents the good things in baseball. In a time when athletes are making news for all the wrong reasons, he’s doing it right.
Born Derek Sanderson Jeter on June 26, 1974 in Pequannock, NJ, he graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan in 1992, and began his career in baseball. He was selected in the first round of the June 1992 free agent draft.
As a kid, Jeter enjoyed playing basketball along with baseball. But he knew from the very start that he wanted to be a professional baseball player one day. So much so, that he announced to his parents that one day he would be playing for the New York Yankees when he grew up.
His only job that he had besides baseball was mowing a neighbor’s lawn. Imagine the stories that guy has today! Derek Jeter mowed my lawn!
Derek credits his parents for having a big influence on his career. “They’ve always been very supportive and always told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as I worked hard,” said Jeter.
He believed them, and it paid off.
During his time in New York, he has helped the Yankees to six World Series playoffs, earning four titles, and has made six All-Star Game appearances. He has also won numerous awards including 1996 Rookie of the Year, 2000 World Series Most Valuable Player, and 2000 All-Star Game MVP. This month Jeter won his 2nd consecutive Golf Glove award, and the Yankee’s first short-stop to do so.
In 2005, he had a .309 average, with 19 home runs and 70 RBI’s.
His fans love him, and he has them wherever he goes. Last July, I was in a restaurant having lunch, and looked over to see Derek Jeter sitting in the same restaurant, two tables away. It was fun watching people’s reaction to seeing him. One kid was so excited he went running out of the restaurant to find his parents, who were parking the car. You could hear him yelling the news to them. Derek was polite to all, and it made me think how hard it must be sometimes for someone as famous as he is to go out in public. As we left, he looked up and smiled at me and waved. It was way cool.
When away from the ballpark, Jeter enjoys going to the movies and the nightlife of New York. “I’m always at the movie theatre,” he said. “My favorite movie is Scarface. I like Al Pacino and I’m a big fan.”
Derek also gives back to his community. He established the Turn 2 Foundation, which has offices in New York, Michigan and Florida. It is a non-profit organization that helps at risk kids and promotes healthy lifestyles and creates programs and activities designed to prevent and treat teenage substance abuse.
The off season is spent at his home in Tampa, Florida where he enjoys relaxing and working out. The time away form the big city gives him a chance to unwind and prepare himself for the next season. He doesn’t have any pets because he is “scared of animals.” If he didn’t play baseball, he would want a job that was sports related. “It would have to be in sports,” he said.
With the season in full swing, you can bet Jeter has one thing on his mind; the hunt for October. He is at the top of his game, a real competitor, and has a fierce determination to win.
His advice to kids? It’s simple. “Do well in school, work hard and remember the best thing about baseball is that regardless of your size, anyone can play.”
He gave me that big smile again, and then added, “Most important of all is to have fun.”
Just for Fun:
What stadium do you like to play in the most?
Yankee Stadium! It has all the tradition, the fans are great and the atmosphere is outstanding.
Do fans ever annoy you?
Boston fans annoy me. They’re not very nice.
If you had been stuck on an island and you could have anybody with you besides family, who would it be?
Somebody that would get me off the island!
If they made a movie about you, who should play you?
Will Smith. I think he’s a great actor and kind of goofy like me.
What’s the biggest opportunity you have had?
To be able to play professional baseball.
How do you feel about kids looking up to you?
It really makes you feel special when kids look up to you.
If you could live in any time in history when would it be?