Also Credited As:Derek Sanderson Jeter
|Derek Sanderson Jeter on June 26, 1974 in Pequannock, New Jersey, USA|
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Derek Sanderson Jeter was born on June 26, 1974 in Pequannock, NJ, only 28 miles from the gates of Yankee Stadium, where he would mark his name in the list of the game's greats. As a child, he often attended Yankees games with his grandparents, watching wide-eyed as Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield took to the field, inspiring him to take up baseball at Kalamazoo Central High school after his family moved to Michigan in 1978. Jeter played both baseball and basketball for his Kalamazoo Giants, but it was his glove and bat that drove national recognition from both scouts and the American Baseball Coaches Association, who recognized him as the High School Player of the Year in 1992. The University of Michigan also had their eyes on the future Yankees shortstop, but it was eventually the New York Yankees who grabbed Jeter out of the sea of prospective young baseball players, drafting the youngster with the sixth pick in the draft. One pen and an $800,000 contract was all he needed to agree to suit up in the pinstripes to play for his favorite childhood team.
Jeter made his minor-league debut with the Gulf Coast Yankees later that year, sending him down to Tampa, FL to begin his professional career. His high-school success failed to transfer to professional baseball however, and the future silver slugger found himself benched by his manager midway through his rookie minor league season, in an attempt to salvage his batting average. He was notably unhappy, so in an attempt to get the blood pumping again, the Yankees sent Jeter to their then high-A franchise in South Carolina where he lifted his numbers conservatively, but still struggled. The offseason between 1992 and 1993 found Jeter re-evaluating his early struggles, and after increased weight training and fielding practice, he began to see his numbers climb, and with them, buzz and optimism for his once highly-regarded potential, sending his name into scouting books and prospect lists all throughout Major League Baseball.
After shortstop Tony Fernández suffered a minor rib injury to force him out of the Yankees' starting lineup, Jeter received the call from AAA Columbus to catch the first flight to Seattle, and he made his Major League debut on May 29 of that year. Although he went 0-5 in his debut, he made his first hit off of the Mariners' Tim Belcher the very next day, and quickly found himself bonding with the aging Yankees' lineup. Yankee's first baseman Don Mattingly began to mentor the young shortstop, teaching him fielding techniques that only a 13-year major league veteran would have been able to give. But Jeter's early success was not enough to keep him with the Yankees, and he was sent back down to AAA Columbus once Fernández returned, only a day before the Yankees played the Detroit Tigers, disappointing a legion of Jeter's hometown friends and family ready to make the short trip from Kalamazoo.
The next few years saw Jeter making regular All-Star appearances and regularly hovering around a .300 average to make his case as one of the best young players in all of baseball. And after reclaiming the World Series in 1998, and setting a famous three-year dynasty of championships alongside manager Joe Torre and Mariano Rivera, earned a 10-year $189 million contract in 2001, ensuring continued famous moments like his 2002 "flip" throw to home in the 2001 ALDS for Yankees fans eager for continued success. Following the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, which delayed the start of the playoffs, the Yankees again found themselves in the World Series, facing the Arizona Diamondbacks. In an extra-inning thriller on the night of Halloween that found the game pushing well into the night, Jeter hit a game-winning home run past midnight, earning him the nickname "Mr. November," as no MLB games had ever been played that late in the year.
The early 2000s saw Jeter put up consistent numbers for the Yankees, posting up to a 6.1 WAR and multiple 10-20 home run seasons. A diving catch made in 2004 against the Boston Red Sox gave Jeter a lacerated chin after he fell into the stands, and many believe his Gold Glove award that year was a direct result of it. Some critics have argued that highlight-reel plays such as this, and his heightened stature as the Captain of the New York Yankees, overshadow Jeter's actual defensive metrics, which some advanced Sabermetricians suggest shows Jeter is actually a poor defensive shortstop. But his continued postseason success only endeared him to fans casual and obsessive alike, and behind his offensive contributions, the New York Yankees made the playoffs each year since 1995, with the lone exception of 2008.
That very same year, Old Yankee Stadium, called "The House that Ruth Built" by many fans in reverence to Yankee slugger Babe Ruth, was demolished to make way for a new state-of-the-art facility across the street. While many saw the transition as the end of decades-old Yankee lore, it could not have been timed better, with a career-Yankee beginning to break records long held by Yankees and tying the two eras together with one illustrious career. On September 11, 2009, Jeter broke Lou Gehrig's all-time Yankee hit record with 2,722, and found himself, along with teammates Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, in their 16th consecutive season as teammates, an American Professional Sports record.
By age 36, Derek Jeter was facing aging bones and questions about his continued production as the captain of America's most famous baseball team. But after taking a three-year $51 million contract with the Yankees rather than testing free agency, Jeter all but ensured he would retire in his Yankee pinstripes, possibly going down as the great "all-time Yankee," according to former Major Leaguer and Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer. Perhaps foreseeing the end of his playing days in clear sight, in November of 2013 Jeter launched his brand new business venture, Jeter Publishing. As a partner of Simon & Schuster, Jeter Publishing will release nonfiction titles, biographies, as well books for children, while leaving the door open for the Yankees slugger to explore additional business opportunities in movies, TV, and various other forms of media. The first titles under the Jeter Publishing imprint will be released in 2014.