This is the third in a series of my favorite player from every MLB team.
Vol. #1...Baltimore Orioles...3rd Baseman Brooks Robinson (HOF)
Vol. #2...Boston Red Sox...OF Fred Lynn
Today...New York Yankees...SS Derek Jeter..."The Kalamazoo Kid."
Twenty years from now, a young baseball fan will ask his or her dad what a baseball player is, and that dad will tell the youngster about Mr. Baseball, Derek Jeter.
Derek Jeter was born in New Jersey, and at age 4 his father moved the family to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Jeter became a star baseball player, earning numerous honors, including the 1992 Gatorade High School Player of the Year, and set his sights on going to the University of Michigan to play baseball for the Wolverines. Instead, Jeter was drafted 6th overall in the 1992 player draft by the Yankees, becoming the face of baseball's most famous franchise.
I am a homer, a guy who roots for his home town teams, and its athletes. I am a Tigers, Lions, Red Wing, and Piston fan, I bleed Maize & Blue for the university of Michigan, and I cheer on athletes from my hometown, Kalamazoo, Michigan...and I make no excuses for it, and since the day he put on the hallowed Yankee pinstripes, Derek Jeter has been my favorite Yankee. He grew up in my hometown of Kalamazoo, and he attended the same High School that my Mother, and my Uncles attended back in the 1950's, Kalamazoo Central, and, of course, he was a Wolverine at heart.
Derek Jeter is Mr. Baseball, pure and simple.
Every aspect of Jeter's play on the field has been nothing short of professional, magnificent, thrilling baseball fans with exciting defensive plays and big hits in big games. For 16 magical years Jeter has led by example, weather it's going into the hole at shortstop, and throwing out the runner with his patented jump and throw...
...diving into the stands...
...or hitting a game winning home run in the World Series...
...Derek Jeter has been, and is, everything positive in the negative world of baseball's steroid/performance enhancing drug era. Derek Jeter is a ball player, he epitomizes the big league players of old, like DiMaggio, Gehringer, Mays, Aaron, Kaline, and Clemente...men of honor on the baseball diamond, and in the clubhouse.
Jeter's #2 will one day join the hallowed retired numbers of Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, joining #1-Billy Martin, #3-Babe Ruth, #4-Lou Gehrig, #5-Joe DiMaggio, #7-Mickey Mantle, #8-Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, and #9-Roger Maris...completing the use of all single digit Yankee uniform numbers forever...along with his Manager Joe Torre, who will no doubt have his uniform #6 retired by the Yankees at some point.
I love the humbleness of Jeter, the way he handles himself, the way he presents himself, the way he took on becoming just the 11th Captain of the storied Yankees franchise, the way he talks to the media..."no excuses"... the way he thanks his boss..."Mr. Steinbrenner", as he always referred to the Yankees owner.
Derek Jeter, the kid from Kalamazoo, grew up loving the Yankees. He would visit his grandparents in New Jersey, and they would take him to Yankee Stadium, where he would cheer on Dave Winfield, and dreaming of one day donning the Yankee pinstripes.
How many kids grow up dreaming to play in the big leagues for their favorite team, and then having that team draft you...and then allowing you to put on that uniform, living the dream, playing for the Yankees, becoming Rookie of the Year, winning World Series, becoming an All-Star shortsop.
For all the greatness that is Derek Jeter on the field, he also gives back, establishing the Turn2 Foundation, where young people are helped to "Turn 2" by reversing their addiction to drugs and alcohol.
If you love the game of baseball, you have to love, well, OK, maybe not the Red Sox fans, but you have to love Derek Jeter...Mr. Baseball.
Derek Jeter...Mr. November...Captain clutch...(stats of 5/26/10)
.316 lifetime hitter
229 Home Runs
2,803 hits...#1 All-Time Yankee record.