Baseball great; Yankee captain
Born: June 26, 1974, in Pequannock, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2015: Sports
He didn’t blast home runs by the bushel. He never won a batting title. He didn’t seek headlines. But for 20 years, Derek Jeter was the essential cog in the wheel for the New York Yankees, helping lead the team to five World Series championships.
Along the way, Jeter banged out 3,465 hits, sixth on the all-time list, compiled a lifetime batting average of .310, was named to 14 All-Star teams, and earned accolades too numerous to name. In 2020, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
The son of an accountant mom and a substance-abuse counselor dad, Jeter was just four when his parents moved from New Jersey to Kalamazoo, Michigan. During the school year, Jeter and his younger sister lived with their parents, but he spent summers with his grandparents in West Milford, gaining his Jersey stripes.
Jeter emerged as a baseball star in high school in Michigan, while also playing basketball and running track. He earned a baseball scholarship to attend the University of Michigan, but chose instead to sign with the Yankees, who picked him sixth overall in the 1992 player draft.
After developing his skills in the minor leagues, Jeter landed the starting shortstop job for the Yankees in 1996. By season’s end, he was the American League’s unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year. Thanks in large part to Jeter’s performance, the Yankees won the World Series in 1996, the team’s first championship since 1978.
After failing to reach the World Series in 1997, the Yankees won a remarkable three championships in a row from 1998-2000. The 1998 season was especially remarkable, with the Yankees winning 114 games in the regular season and then sweeping the San Diego Padres in the World Series. While the Yankees of that era had numerous stars, Jeter’s performance was always central to the team’s success. Notably, in 2000, he was named Most Valuable Player in both the All-Star Game and the World Series; he remains the only player to win both honors in the same season.
Over the next decade, Jeter continued to excel (he was named Yankees captain in 2003), but the Yankees would have to wait until 2009 to win another World Series. It was Jeter’s final championship. Consistently among the league leaders in batting average, hits and runs scored, Jeter was also renowned for his all-out play in the field, including such memorable moments as his amazing “flip play” to nab Jeremy Giambi at home plate in the 2001 American League Division Series, and his dive into the stands to catch a foul pop against the Boston Red Sox in 2004.
Jeter had a way of rising to the occasion. On July 9, 2011, he joined baseball’s exclusive 3,000-hit club, getting five hits in five at-bats that day. In classic Jeter fashion, hit number 3,000 was a home run. When he retired three seasons later, Jeter was the all-time Yankees leader in hits, doubles (544), stolen bases (358), games played (2,747), and numerous other categories.
After his playing career, Jeter entered several business ventures. From 2017-2022, he was a part-owner and CEO of baseball’s Miami Marlins. He also has been active in philanthropy, especially through his Turn 2 Foundation. More recently, he launched a new career in broadcasting.