“Now batting for the Yankees, No. 2, Derek Jeter, No. 2.” The amount of times New York Yankee fans will hear those famous words from the late public address announcer Bob Sheppard, are dwindling away. Unless you’re me and you set the recording as your alarm clock.
Throughout Jeter’s illustrious career, he has achieved tremendous individual accomplishments, and his team has won the World Series five times with him as the shortstop and team captain. The list of what Jeter hasn’t done while in New York is a much shorter list. His recent announcement that he will be retiring at the end of the 2014 season devastated Yankee fans and baseball fans throughout the world. When he was asked how he’d want to be remembered when it was all over, he responded, “Being remembered as a Yankee is enough for me.”
Very few athletes are as great as Jeter, and even fewer are great and stay out of trouble. Jeter, the biracial angel that he is, has steered clear of the major media scandals, PEDs, STDs and any type of violent crimes throughout his career. What’s the worst thing he’s done? After he’d spend the night with a beautiful co-ed, he’d have his driver give the young lady a parting gift basket equipped with memorabilia. So not only was he being unselfish by sharing himself with more women, but he gave away a goodie-bag when they parted ways. That’s a real double-play.
I want to be Derek Jeter as badly as I don’t want to be Raymond Felton right now. He is nearly perfect. Jeter is athletic, has an impeccable smile and then there’s his Ford Edge with a panoramic vista roof. He brings offense, defense, jump-thows, Bob Sheppards’ voice and leadership. He doesn’t just wear the C on his jersey, but he acts the part of the captain in every way imaginable. This may sound a bit like hero worship and guess what, it is. Jeter is the sports hero of my generation. He has been able to stay on top of the world and a handful of A-list celebrities for 20 years without any slip ups. D.J. has it all.
There will be and have been better shortstops both offensively and defensively than Jeter, but so much more goes into what makes Jeter a legend.
What Michael Jordan was to basketball, Jeter similarly was to baseball. That may sound outlandish to some because M.J. transcended the game of basketball becoming not just a great basketball player, but he was essentially a Rockstar in high-tops. Every kid in 90s wanted to be like Mike. Jeter has that same charisma. Growing up as a baseball player and child of the 90s, I can tell you that everyone emulated Jeter. Whether it was wearing a one-arm sleeve, the batting stance, jump throws or trying to dive into the stands of a Little League game and taking out your own Grandparents accidentally (sorry Grandma). The point is, Derek Jeter made kids want to play baseball, and part of the reason fewer kids are signing up for Little League these days is inpart because they are busy on their Iphones, but mostly it’s because they don’t have a Derek Jeter to look up to.
For now, Jeter is still the perfectly-manicured face of MLB. He is an American, he’s a shortstop, a shortstop for the New York Yankees, he’s handsome, good, generous, he wins, he’s a family man, lived his dream, humble and he’s the captain. He truly is the perfect storm, and he may be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. He grew up in Kalamazoo, Mich., yet he knew he wanted to be the shortstop for the New York Yankees when he got older. Millions of kids say it, only Derek has done it.
If you look at today’s game, there are some great players, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw and many more. Trout is a five-tool young stud, Cabrera may be one of the best hitters of all time and Kershaw has multiple Cy Young awards and he’s only 25. They have all the on the field intangibles, but to be the next Derek Jeter, you must play in a big market, be beloved by many, hated by the Boston Red Sox and envied by all. For now and at least for the foreseeable future, there will never be another Derek Jeter.