Derek Jeter turned 40 on Thursday, ancient for an athlete, but still relatively young for anyone else. Since Jeter will probably be inundated with obituary-like thoughts, columns, and comments come his final game, his birthday should be all about celebrating his career, not mourning its demise. Presented are 21 facts and anecdotes about Derek Jeter, to honor the age at which he broke into the majors, and because no 40-year-old wants to see that many candles on their cake.
1. Although he grew up in Michigan, Jeter was born in New Jersey and grew up a Yankee fan.
2. Jeter’s parents are Charles and Dorothy, who met while serving in the army.
3. His middle name, Sanderson, is his father’s legal first name.
4. Jeter was drafted sixth overall in 1992.
5. The Astros, who held the first pick in 1992, chose Phil Nevin. One of their scouts quit after the draft, insisting they should have chose Jeter.
6. Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Jose Cruz Jr. were all chosen in the same draft, and would go on to play alongside Jeter on the Yankees.
7. The Yankees considered passing on Jeter in the draft because of signability concerns. Jeter had a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Michigan.
8. Derek Jeter chose his number based on the historical significance of single digits for the Yankees.
9. Troy Tulowitzki and Xander Bogaerts wear number two to honor Jeter, the favorite player of each growing up.
10. Jeter’s own favorite player was Dave Winfield.
11. After being named captain of the United States’ 2009 World Baseball Classic team, Jeter played against the Yankees in an exhibition game.
12. Former teammates have claimed that Jeter never watches baseball other than studying his own games.
13. The Captain has never won an MVP award, but has finished in the top three on three separate occasions, and received votes twelve times.
14. Jeter did win several Minor League Player of the Year awards before arriving in New York.
15. Michael Jordan was the first player to wear Jordan brand spikes on a baseball diamond. Derek Jeter was the second.
16. Jeter uses a custom branded 32 ounce Louisville Slugger bat, at 34 inches in length.
17. He has hit safely in 42 different ballparks during the regular season. Including the Tokyo Dome in Japan, and Stade Olympique and the Rogers Centre in Canada, Jeter has gotten a hit in three different countries.
18. Camden Yards has seen the most Derek Jeter hits, outside of the old and new Yankee Stadiums.
19. During his seven World Series, which include five victories, Jeter batted .321, averaging more than a hit per game.
20. Jeter is only the sixth player to have as many starts at shortstop as he does in an age 40-or-older season.
21. Friday’s game will be Jeter’s first as a 40 year old. He will be the first Yankee to start a game at shortstop at that age.
There will be plenty of time to rue the coming end of Jeter’s career later on. He is not having a year anywhere near what he did in his prime, but Jeter is still surpassing what many expected from him after his lower body injuries of the past two seasons. He has actually managed to still be around a league average shortstop offensively. He is also still the Yankees’ captain, and is still fighting to lead his team to the postseason for one last try at a title.
Commentary by Brian Moore