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Derek Jeter

From Academic Kids

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Derekjeter.jpg
Derek Jeter singles against the Kansas City Royals

Derek Sanderson Jeter (born June 26, 1974 in Pequannock, New Jersey) is a shortstop for the New York Yankees and six-time All-Star.

His father, Charles, is African American; his mother, Dorothy, is white. Jeter was named 1992 High School Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He had a baseball scholarship to Michigan, but the New York Yankees drafted him in the first round of the amateur draft. Jeter left the Wolverines behind to follow his dream.

Growing up, he had wondered whether the Yankees would have any one-digit uniform numbers left, as so many of them had been retired. But his hope that he could get to wear a Yankee uniform with a single digit was realized, and he got the number 2. He has worn that number from the beginning, and many believe it will be retired in his honor when he finishes his career.

He earned a taste of the big leagues on May 29, 1995 replacing an injured Tony Fernandez, only a month before turning 21. He showed enough talent to replace Fernandez, and inherited his starting spot in 1996. It didn't take long for the Yankee faithful to take to Jeter, as he earned Rookie of the Year honors by having a solid all-around year in which he hit .314. He saved his best for the postseason, where he batted .361 in 15 playoff games en route to the Yankees' first world title in 18 years. His postseason was highlighted, in a way, by a home run in the League Championship Series, a home run that was very famously deflected by 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier who reached over the wall (and, technically, onto the field of play) and stole the ball from Baltimore Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco. Replays clearly showed fan interference, but it was nonetheless ruled a home run.

During his rookie season the young shortstop gained instant fame and soon became a regular subject in the local newspapers' gossip columns. A highly eligible bachelor in New York with matinee idol looks, his love life became a hot topic among the press, most memorably a long affair with pop star Mariah Carey. Despite the media's influence, he continued to produce. In the Yankees' 1998 campaign, in which they won 114 games, he batted .324. Also in 1998, he led the American League in runs scored, with 127. Putting together his best year defensively as well, he earned his first all-star appearances and 3rd place in MVP voting.

While his 1998 was great, his 1999 was statistically better, as he reached career highs in average, home runs, RBIs, and walks, leading the AL in hits with 219. This earned him 6th place honors though in MVP voting. 2000 made up for the misses in MVP award voting, as he won All-Star MVP honors, and then World Series MVP honors as the Yankees defeated the Mets in the Subway Series. He continues to put up similar seasons as he did what he's always done in 2001 and 2002, hit solidly for average and for power, steal bases, and play steady defense. In 2004, Jeter won his first American League Gold Glove Award, an award given annually to the best defensive player at each position.

Perhaps the best example of his defensive prowess took place on October 13, 2001, during the 3rd game of the ALDS. The Yankees trailed in the Series 2 games to 0 to the Oakland Athletics, and led 1-0 in the 7th inning. With a runner on first, Terrence Long hit a double down the right-field line. The Yankee rightfielder, Shane Spencer, threw home, to try to stop the tying run from scoring. The throw went over the cutoff man, first baseman Tino Martinez. Jeter cut the ball off, and shovel-passed the ball to catcher Jorge Posada, who tagged the runner out and saved a run. The Yankees went on to win the series.

On July 1, 2004, Jeter made another extraordinary defensive play. In the 12th inning of a tie-game against the Boston Red Sox, Boston's Trot Nixon hit a pop-up down the left-field line. Jeter sprinted for the ball from his position at shortstop and made a running catch at full-speed, sending him into the stands headfirst. Jeter held on to the ball, but emerged from the stands bruised and bloodied, with lacerations on his chin and cheek, and had to leave the game for X-rays. New York would win the game in the bottom of the inning, and Jeter was back in the lineup the very next night against the New York Mets.

Throughout his career, Jeter has been known as one of the best postseason players in baseball history. Since arriving in the majors in 1996, Jeter's Yankees have been in the playoffs every year (winning the AL East Division all but once) and have won 6 AL Championships and 4 World Series Championships. Jeter's teams have also won 17 of the 22 postseason series they've played in, and have compiled a remarkable overall postseason record of 72-38. Jeter's personal postseason performance has been just as good. As of 2005, Jeter has a career .306 postseason batting average and ranks among the leaders in many postseason categories: 2nd in runs, 1st in hits, 2nd in total bases, 2nd in doubles, 7th in home runs, 6th in RBIs, 5th in walks, 1st in singles, and 6th in stolen bases.

Jeter has also had some of his most memorable moments in postseason play, including his eighth inning, game-tying home run against Baltimore in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, his shovel pass in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS against Oakland, and his game-winning, tenth-inning home run off Arizona's Byung-Hyun Kim in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. The home run earned Jeter the moniker, "Mr. November," as it came 3 minutes after midnight on November 1. Due to the September 11, 2001 attacks, it was the first Major League game to be played in the month of November. Jeter has hit above .300 in 14 of the 22 postseason series he's played in, including 4 of his last 6 (.500 in the 2002 ALDS, .429 in the 2003 ALDS, .346 in the 2003 World Series, and .316 in the 2004 ALDS), further solidifying his reputation as a "clutch" player.

Uncharacteristically, Jeter struggled during the 2004 ALCS against Boston, batting only .200 in a series in which the Yankees would notably become the first team in MLB history to lose a best-of-seven series after taking a 3-games-to-nothing-lead.

In January of 2005, Derek Jeter was voted the best baserunner in baseball by ESPN.com.

These heroics, as well as his off-the-field leadership, led to the Yankees naming him the 11th captain in Yankees history on June 3, 2003. (However, Howard W. Rosenberg, the foremost historian on baseball captains and author of the 2003 book Cap Anson 1: When Captaining a Team Meant Something: Leadership in Baseball's Early Years, has found that the count of Yankee captains is deficient Hall of Famer Clark Griffith, the 1903-05 captain, and Kid Elberfeld, the 1906-09 one, with 1913 Manager Frank Chance a strong circumstantial candidate to have been captain that year as well. Therefore, Jeter may in fact be the 13th or 14th Yankees captain.)

Jeter-hating has turned into a lucrative cottage industry in Boston, with vendors selling t-shirts reading "Jeter Sucks" and other obscene messages outside of Fenway Park.

On June 18, 2005, Jeter hit a Grand Slam to break his streak of 135 apperances with bases loaded without a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning in a 8-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

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