When you live in a city with a professional sports team you usually imagine yourself growing up and one day getting the chance to not just go pro, but the chance to represent your hometown in whatever sport it may be. Of course this goal is not something that just comes overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to the game and even if you do go pro, you don’t always get the chance to play in your hometown. For Derek Jeter, who lived in Pequannock, New Jersey before moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan, it all started for him at a young age and his passion for both the game of baseball and his New York Yankees will forever run through his veins.
Drafted sixth overall by the New York Yankees in the 1992 MLB June Amateur Draft, Jeter was drafted out of Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan where he was inspired to become a professional baseball player by Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. Jeter never failed to bat below .500 while he was in high school and won many awards in his senior year such as the 1992 High School Player of the Year by 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. In his draft year, the Houston Astros were highly interested in him but felt he wouldn’t turn pro right away as he received a baseball scholarship at the University of Michigan. With the Astros passing on him with the first pick in the draft, the Yankees took advantage of their mistake and grabbed him at number six.
Jeter found himself playing in the minor leagues for four years as he started to blow up in his final season in the minors. In 1994, Jeter managed to start in Class-A Advanced, Double-A, and Triple-A, where he hit for a combined average of .344, hit five home runs, 68 runs batted in, and stole 50 bases throughout the three leagues. At the end of the season he was honoured with the Minor League Player of the Year Award by Baseball America; The Sporting News; USA Today; and Topps and was also named MVP of the Florida State League.
After his impressive stint in the minors, the Yankees were ready to make him their starting shortstop for the 1995 season before Jeter experienced a setback as he was injured in the Arizona Fall League and had his place on the roster filled as the Yankees went out and signed veteran Tony Fernandez. Although he wasn’t their starter, Jeter got to experience some time with the Yankees throughout the season before he was demoted back to Triple-A. Despite the signing of Fernandez the year before, Joe Torre made it clear that Derek Jeter would be the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees for the 1996 season. His rookie season was more successful than his short appearance the year before as he finished the season batting .314, with 10 home runs, 104 runs scored, and 78 runs batted in. Throughout the playoffs Jeter batted .361 as the Yankees would go on to win their first World Series since 1978 as Jeter took home the World Series and the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year Award in his first full season in Major League Baseball.
Aside from having such a successful rookie season on the field, Jeter was successful away from the game as well as he decided to create the Turn 2 Foundation; an organization dedicated to motivating young people to stay away from drugs and alcohol. The name was chosen because of its double meaning of recording a double play, as well as for children to realize they can always “Turn 2” the foundation for any guidance or help that is being seeked. Since December, 1996, Jeter has awarded nearly $12 million in grants to promote healthy lifestyles for youth in the West Michigan, Tampa Bay and New York areas; all of which have supported Jeter throughout his life and career. His foundation hosts many signature programs such as: Jeter’s Leaders; Proud To Be Me; Turn 2 After School; Turn 2 Us Healthy Lifestyles; and Holiday Express. Aside from the work he does in his own foundation, Jeter is also involved with Weplay; an online site that allows young athletes, parents, coaches, families and teams involved in youth sports to stay connected and see what different youth leagues and teams are doing around the world.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Derek Jeter was first drafted by the New York Yankees and he has done something you don’t usually see in sports anymore; staying with the team that originally drafted you. Coming into this season he is an 11x All-Star; 5x World Series Champion; 5x Gold Glove Award winner; 4x Silver Slugger Award winner and a 2x Hank Aaron Award winner. He was the 2000 All-Star Game and World Series MVP and along with Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, the three are the first teammates to remain teammates for 16 years on one team. He won the 2008 Babe Ruth Award, as well as the 2009 Roberto Clemente Award and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award. He has shown that dedication and hard work will pay off, as long as you keep your target in mind at all times. Jeter knew when he was younger that he wanted to be a member of the New York Yankees and he didn’t let anyone or anything stand in his way. Now, he holds team and league records such as the most singles, hits and stolen bases by a Yankee and is Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader by a shortstop. He is the captain of the most recognizable sports organization in the world and will one day be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York as a representative of the Yankees.
To find out more about Derek Jeter and the Turn 2 Foundation, visit http://derekjeter.mlb.com/players/jeter_derek/index.jsp