Biography: Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees is one of baseball's best players.

It seems preposterous to mention a 26-year-old shortstop from Kalamazoo, Michigan in the same breath as the legendary Joe DiMaggio, but New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter is doing just that.

In five full seasons, the statistics and honors accorded each player are striking. Jeter and DiMaggio each played 19 World Series games over their first five years in the major leagues. The Yankees went 16-3 in DiMaggio's time. They have gone 16-3 in the Jeter era. Jeter and DiMaggio each starred in Series play, accounting for at least one-fifth of their team's run production. Each player owns approximately 1,000 hits during that five year span. And each has taken New York by storm at a young age, although their personalities are much different.

Derek Jeter was born in New Jersey, but reared in Kalamazoo Michigan where he became one of the nation's most sought-after high school baseball players. Recruited heavily by the University of Michigan, Jeter instead chose to sign with the Yankees after being drafted his senior year when he was named the National High School Player of the Year.

Jeter supported the Yankees' decision to make him their first round pick by winning the minor league Player of the Year award. He hit .344 at Triple A Columbus and the Yankees were chomping at the bit to get him in the lineup.

Rising quickly through the minor leagues, Jeter played briefly with the Yankees in 1995 and then became the Yanks' everyday shortstop in 1996. Just 21 on Opening Day, Jeter became the first Yankee rookie since 1962 to start at shortstop. He wasn't awed by the bright lights, however, hitting .314 and helping the Yankees to the World Series championship under manager Joe Torre. Always respectful, the young Jeter referred to his skipper as "Mr. Torre" in the clubhouse and in interviews with an amused media corps. But it wasn't a rookie act. Jeter continues to call Torre "Mister" even now as the Yankees celebrate their fourth championship in five years. Capping the season with the Rookie of the Year award in November, Jeter was already a sensation in New York. His youth, good looks, success and trendy clothes captured the fancy of fans and non-fans.

But Jeter was just getting started. In 1998, now 24, he was named to his first All Star team. Solid in the field and dangerous at the plate, Jeter developed more muscle power by 1999. As the Yankees sought their second straight Series title and third in four years, Jeter hit .348 but also belted a career high 24 homers, 102 RBI and a slugging percentage of .552.

In 2000, Jeter was again spectacular. He was the All Star game MVP, thanks to a first inning home run that propelled the American League to victory. But he saved his best for the post-season. Jeter continued his streak of errorless play at shortstop (he hasn't made one in the Series since '96) and his bat was a big factor in another Yankees championship. In game 2, he doubled and then scored the decisive run in a 6-5 win over the Mets. His homer in game five tied the score of a game the Yankees would win to capture the title. He was named the Series MVP. No player in major league history had ever won both the All Star and World Series MVP trophies in the same season.

A bachelor, Jeter lives in Tampa, Florida during the off-season but enjoys the New York nightlife during the baseball season, often hitting trendy nightspots with Miss Universe Lara Dutta at his side. Unfailingly polite, Jeter has become a beloved superstar in a city that can be difficult for athletes but the greatest place in the world for winners. Jeter has certainly become that, thriving on the pressure with a competitive nature second to none. He's been a major contributor to the Yankees' incredible string of post-season victories that now number 46 since his arrival as the fresh-faced kid from Kalamazoo.

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