This is going to sound a little silly but I like to tell people that Derek Jeter and I grew up together. Sure, he was in Michigan while I was growing up in a suburb of New York but we are the same age – exactly two months apart – and we did, in a sense, grow up together. It just happened later on in life.
And I proudly watched as the “kid” who was the same age as me became a Yankee legend.
On Opening Day 1996, a young shortstop was inserted into the starting lineup for the New York Yankees. The Yankees hadn’t had a lot of luck with the shortstop position in recent years and this rookie was only in the lineup because Tony Fernandez, who was supposed to be the Opening Day shortstop, was injured.
After a home run and a jump throw to nail a runner at first helped lead the Yankees to victory, on a blustery day in Cleveland, a legend was born.
Not bad for someone who regarded as the fourth best young shortstop in the mid-1990s. Alex Rodriguez of Seattle, Nomar Garciaparra of Boston and Rey Ordonez of the Mets were the other players in a crop of young shortstops that were expected to outlast and outperform Jeter. A couple of them may have outhit Jeter in some categories – power numbers especially – but no one, not even the biggest Yankee haters, can deny that Jeter has remained consistent throughout this career.