In the 1993 Robert De Niro movie “A Bronx Tale,” a young Italian boy, Calogero Anello, is riding the bus with his father, Lorenzo, played by De Niro. Set in the 1950’s, the two get to talking baseball, and Lorenzo goes on to tell Calogero that Joe Dimaggio is the greatest Yankee of all time.
If the two were to have that same conversation today, Lorenzo may tell his son that Derek Jeter is the greatest Yankee of all time.
Jeter announced Wednesday, Feb. 12, that he will retire from baseball following the 2014 season. He has spent the past 19 seasons in New York as a Yankee, and will retire as the longest tenure Yankee in team history.
So how did a young, smooth talking, good looking kid from Kalamazoo, Michigan climb to the top of one of the most, if not the most decorated teams in American sports history?
Born in Pequannock Township, New Jersey, Jeter and his family moved to Kalamazoo when he was four years old. As he got older, he would spend the school year months with his mother and father in Michigan, and spend the summers with his grandparents back home in New Jersey. It was there, back home in Jersey, that Jeter became a fan of the New York Yankees, as he would go to ballgames with his grandparents.
The excitement, tradition, and class of the New York Yankees inspired Jeter to play baseball.
A natural on the diamond, Jeter’s talents were clear as glass. He won several National Player of the Year awards playing for his high school in Kalamazoo, and was offered a scholarship by the University of Michigan.
Instead, several major league teams took interest in Jeter in the 1992 draft, including the Houston Astros, who held the number one pick. The Astros passed on Jeter, and he was selected sixth overall by the New York Yankees.
Jeter played four seasons in the minor leagues, before making his MLB debut on May 29, 1995. He went hitless in five at bats in his major league debut. In his second game, he recorded his first two hits, and scored his first two runs.
Can I say the rest is history?
It is history. He made history.
Jeter emerged as an MLB superstar, with the perfect stage in New York City to let his talents and personality shine. He was a perfect fit, the chosen one, the epitome of a Yankee; clean-cut, big smile, smooth young shortstop. The Yankees hadn’t won a World Series title since 1978. In Jeter’s second year with the team, they won the World Series, and Jeter captured his first championship in his first full year as a Yankee, and was awarded the AL Rookie of the Year award.
The Yankees went on to three consecutive titles, capturing the World Series Title in 1998, 1999, and 2000, giving Jeter four championships in six seasons. And after a stretch of nine years, Jeter and the Yankees won another title in 2009, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies for Jeter’s fifth ring.
A 13 time MLB All-Star, five time World Series champion, World Series MVP, two time Hank Aaron award winner, five time silver slugger award winner, five time gold glove award winner, a member of the prestigious 3000 hit club, Jeter has placed himself at the top of Yankee mountain.
Lebron James was recently quoted naming his all-time “Mount Rushmore” of NBA players.
How about a Yankees Mount Rushmore? Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter? Many would argue for Lou Gehrig, but why not Jeter.
When it’s all set and done after Jeter gives his goodbye to baseball in 2014, and the pinstripe curtain finally closes on the captain, he may very well deserve a spot on the Yankees Mount Rushmore.