Derek Sanderson Jeter (born June 26, 1974) is an American baseball shortstop who has played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees. A five-time World Series champion, Jeter is regarded as a central figure of the Yankees during their success of the 1990s and 2000s due to his hitting ability, baserunning, and leadership. He is the Yankees' all-time career leader in hits (3,199), games played (2,509), stolen bases (346), and at bats (10,228). His accolades include thirteen All-Star selections, five Gold Glove Awards, four Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Jeter is the all-time MLB leader in hits by a shortstop, and the 28th player to reach 3,000 hits.
The Yankees drafted Jeter out of high school in 1992, and he debuted in the major leagues in 1995. The following year, he became the Yankees' starting shortstop, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and helped the team win the 1996 World Series. Jeter continued to contribute during the team's championship seasons of 1998–2000; he finished third in voting for the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1998, recorded multiple career-high numbers in 1999, and won both the All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP Awards in 2000.
He has consistently placed among the AL leaders in hits and runs scored for the past ten years, and since 2003 has served as the Yankees' team captain. Throughout his career, Jeter has contributed reliably to the Yankees' franchise successes. He holds many postseason records, and has a .351 batting average in the World Series. Jeter has earned the titles of "Captain Clutch" and "Mr. November" due to his postseason heroics.
Jeter has been one of the most heavily marketed athletes of his generation and is involved in several product endorsements. His personal life and relationships with celebrities have drawn the attention of the media throughout his career. Teammates and opponents alike regard Jeter as a consummate professional and one of the best players of his generation. Sportswriters anticipate that Jeter will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame following his playing career.
Jeter was born in Pequannock, New Jersey, on June 26, 1974. His father, Sanderson Charles Jeter, Ph.D., a substance abuse counselor, is African American; his mother, Dorothy, an accountant, is Caucasian and of Irish/German descent. They met while serving in the United States Army in Germany. As a child, Jeter's parents made him sign a contract every year that set acceptable and unacceptable forms of behavior. Dorothy instilled a positive attitude in her son, insisting that he not use the word "can't". Jeter's sister Sharlee, who is five years younger, was a softball star in high school, while his father played baseball at Fisk University in Tennessee at the shortstop position.
The Jeters lived in North Arlington, New Jersey, until Derek was four years old, at which point they moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Jeter and Sharlee lived in Kalamazoo with their parents during the school year and spent their summers with their grandparents in New Jersey. Attending New York Yankees games with his grandparents, Jeter became a passionate fan of the team. Watching Yankees player Dave Winfield inspired him to pursue a career in baseball.
Jeter attended Kalamazoo Central High School, where he played baseball and basketball. Jeter posted high batting averages for the school's baseball team; he batted .557 in his sophomore year and .508 average as a junior. In his senior year, he batted .508 and compiled 23 runs batted in (RBI), 21 walks, four home runs, a .637 on-base percentage (OBP), a .831 slugging percentage (SLG), 12 stolen bases (in 12 attempts), and just one strikeout.
Jeter received several honors after his senior season. These included an All-State honorable mention, distinguishing him as one of the best high school baseball players in Michigan, the Kalamazoo Area B'nai B'rith Award for Scholar Athlete, the 1992 High School Player of the Year Award from the American Baseball Coaches Association, the 1992 Gatorade High School Player of the Year award, and USA Today's High School Player of the Year. Kalamazoo Central High School inducted Jeter into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003 and renamed its baseball field in his honor in 2011. Jeter's baseball talents drew the attention of the University of Michigan, which offered him a baseball scholarship to attend and play college baseball for the Michigan Wolverines baseball team.
As a scout for the Houston Astros, Hal Newhouser evaluated Jeter extensively prior to the 1992 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft. The Astros held the first overall pick in the draft, and Newhouser, convinced that Jeter would anchor a winning team, lobbied team management to select Jeter. However, the Astros feared that Jeter would insist on a salary bonus of at least $1 million to forgo his college scholarship for a professional contract. Consequently, the Astros passed on him in the draft, instead choosing Cal-State Fullerton outfielder Phil Nevin, who signed with Houston for $700,000. Newhouser felt so strongly about Jeter's potential that he quit his job with the Astros in protest after they ignored his drafting advice.
The Yankees, who selected sixth, also rated Jeter highly. Yankees scout Dick Groch, assigned to scout in the Midwest, watched Jeter participate in an all-star camp held at Western Michigan University. Though Yankees officials were concerned that Jeter would attend college and forgo the opportunity to sign a professional contract, Groch convinced them to select him. Regarding the possibility that Jeter would attend Michigan, Groch said "the only place Derek Jeter's going is to Cooperstown", referring to the home city of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The second through fifth picks were Paul Shuey, B. J. Wallace, Jeffrey Hammonds, and Chad Mottola. The Yankees drafted Jeter, who chose to turn professional, signing for $800,000.
Minor leagues (1992–1995)
Jeter played four seasons in minor league baseball, then known as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL). Jeter began the 1992 season with the Gulf Coast Yankees of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, based in Tampa, Florida. In his first professional game, Jeter failed to get a hit in seven at-bats, going 0-for-7, while striking out five times. Jeter continued to struggle during the rest of the season, batting .202 in 47 games. Manager Gary Denbo benched Jeter in the season's final game to ensure his average would not drop below .200, known in baseball as the Mendoza Line. Frustrated by his lack of success and homesick, Jeter accrued $400-per-month phone bills from daily calls to his parents.
The Yankees promoted Jeter to the Greensboro Hornets of the Class A South Atlantic League (SAL) to allow him the opportunity to accrue more at-bats. He batted .247 in his first 11 games with Greensboro, and struggled defensively, making nine errors in 48 chances. Weighing 156 pounds (71 kg), Jeter's scrawny appearance did not match his reputation as the Yankees' future leader. Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, who played for the Hornets that season, at first questioned the hype surrounding Jeter, but recognized his talent and poise.
Jeter spent the next offseason focusing on improving his fielding. Baseball America rated Jeter among the top 100 prospects in baseball prior to the 1993 season, ranking him 44th. Returning to the Hornets in 1993, his first full season of professional baseball, Jeter hit .295 with five home runs, 71 RBI and 18 stolen bases; SAL managers voted him the "Most Outstanding Major League Prospect" in the league. He finished second in the SAL in triples (11), third in hits (152), and eleventh in batting average, as he was named to the postseason All-Star team. However, Jeter committed 56 errors, a SAL record. Despite this, he was voted the SAL's Best Defensive Shortstop, Most Exciting Player, and Best Infield Arm by Baseball America.
Coming off of his strong 1993 season, Baseball America rated Jeter as the 16th-best prospect in baseball. Jeter played for the Tampa Yankees of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League (FSL), the Albany-Colonie Yankees of the Class AA Eastern League, and the Columbus Clippers of the Class AAA International League during the 1994 season, combining to hit .344 with five home runs, 68 RBI, and steal 50 bases across the two levels. He was honored with the Minor League Player of the Year Award by Baseball America, The Sporting News, USA Today, and Topps/NAPBL. He was also named the most valuable player of the FSL.
Considered the fourth-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America heading into the 1995 season, the Yankees projected Jeter as their starting shortstop. However, he suffered mild inflammation in his right shoulder in the Arizona Fall League after the conclusion of the 1994 regular season. As a precaution, the Yankees signed Tony Fernández to a two-year contract. With Fernández the starting shortstop, the Yankees assigned Jeter to Class AAA. During 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike, Gene Michael, the Yankees' general manager, offered Jeter the opportunity to work out for the MLB team with replacement players in spring training prior to the 1995 season. Jeter denied receiving the offer, and did not cross the picket line.
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