Derek Sanderson Jeter is an American baseball star who plays for the Yankees. He was born on June 26, 1974, in Pequannok, New Jersey to mixed race parents. His father is African American and worked as a drug abuse counselor whereas his mother is of German and Irish descent. His parents gave him a positive upbringing and encouraged him and his sister to play sports. Jeter attended Kalamazoo Central High School and played basketball and baseball, whereas his sister played softball. During high school, Jeter had an impressive batting average and idolized the Yankees player Dave Winfield. He received several honors including Kalamazoo Area B’nai B’rith Award for Scholar Athlete, All-State honorable mention, 1992 High School Player of the Year Award from the American Baseball Coaches Association, USA Today’s High School Player of the Year and 1992 Gatorade High School Player of the Year award.
After high school, Jeter was offered a baseball scholarship by the University of Michigan but instead chose to turn pro and accepted a contract with the New York Yankees for $800,000. He started playing professionally in 1992 with the Gulf Coast Yankees but had a rough start to his career. In his first professional game he struck out 5 times and failed to get a hit in seven at-bats. His performance was no better during the rest of the season, with a batting average of 0.202 in 47 games. He was benched during the final game of the season so his average would not fall below 0.200, known in baseball as the Mendoza Line. He was frustrated by his lack of success on the field but his parents continued to encourage and support him.
He was promoted to the Greensboro Hornets of the Class A South Atlantic League and given more at-bats in the next season where he performed only marginally better. He focused on improving his fielding and was ranked 44th among the top 100 prospects in baseball before the 1993 season. His average improved and before his first full season of professional baseball he was voted him the “Most Outstanding Major League Prospect” in the league and to the postseason All-Star team. Despite numerous errors, he was voted the Most Exciting Player, Best Infield Arm by Baseball America and SAL’s Best Defensive Shortstop. He continued his strong performance during the 1994 season and was considered the fourth best prospect in baseball by Baseball America heading into the 1995 season.
Jeter made his major league debut in May 1995 and was selected as the starting shortstop for the 1996 season by the newly appointed Yankees manager Joe Torre. Heading into the 1996 season, Jeter hit his first Major League Baseball (MLB) homerun. His rookie season was successful, and he won the “AL Rookie of the Year” unanimously. In 1998, he was selected for his first All-Star Game. The Yankees won the World Series that year and Jeter was ranked third for the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. He was awarded a $5 million salary for the 1999 season and won the All-Star Game MVP Award in 2000 after leading his team to victory in the 2000 MLB All-Star Game. Jeter signed a 10 year, $189 million contract before the 2001 season to remain with the Yankees which made him the second highest paid athlete across all team sports and auto racing.
Jeter was selected as the captain of the Yankees in 2003, despite an injury which left him with a dislocated shoulder and 36 missed games that season. He won 2 consecutive Gold Glove awards in 2004 and 2005 but lost the 2006 AL MVP Award to Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins. He has since set the record for the highest number of hits in MLB history.
Derek Jeter is well respected both on and off the field. He has used his popularity to start a children’s charity called “Turn 2 Foundation” to encourage academic success, good health and drug and alcohol free culture. He has signed with the Yankees on a one year $12 million contract for the 2014 season, which he announced would be his last. He has been honored with a gift from each opposing team during their visit to the Yankee stadium. He is recognized as one of baseball’s greats, with 5 World Series wins, 5 Gold Glove awards and several other awards including Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.