Born in 1974 in New Jersey, Jeter’s family moved several times before settling in Kalamazoo where he attended high school. Kalamazoo Central High is where he caught a recruiter’s eye. He was given the choice between a college scholarship and signing with the big leagues. He chose to turn down the Michigan Wolverines in favor of his lifelong dream of playing with the Yankees.
Jeter began his Yankees career in 1992 as a first round pick right out of high school. He played in several different smaller leagues for three years. He made his big debut as shortstop in the big leagues in 1995. It didn’t go as well as hoped and he was replaced. Manager Joe Torre changed his mind about Jeter and put him in the starting shortstop position at the start of the next season. In 1996, he made the American League’s rookie of the year.
But it was in the postseason of 1996 that Jeter made a home run with a little luck. A fan grabbed the ball in mid-air. The home run ruled in the game equalized the score. Later on, the Yankees went on to win the American League Championship against the Orioles. With that win, the Yankees went on to win the World Championships. This was the first of five World Championships that Jeter would become a part of.
Since then, he has won numerous awards including MVPs, the Golden Glove, and the Hank Aaron award. But perhaps, more surprising is the fact that he stuck with the Yankees for 18 seasons even after becoming a free agent.
This season, Derek Jeter has already bailed the Yankees out of a couple of tough games proving that experience is as important as youth. The NY Yankees still hold a four game lead over Tampa Bay. Jeter may see his sixth World Champion if the Yankees can continue to hold on and win some more tough games.
When he does retire, he is practically guaranteed an entry into the Hall of Fame.
(U.S. Dept. of Defense photo)