Baseball Profiles
                            Winning Record: Derek Jeter                     
Derek Jeter's talent, tenacity brought the Yankees back to the top.
Memories and Dreams: The Official Magazine of the Hall of Fame
by Tyler Kepner
Under owner George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees had made a habit of trading prospects for immediate needs.
A high school shortstop changed all that - a high school shortstop who seemed to have destiny waiting for him at Yankee Stadium.
"Gene Michael would tell everybody when (Derek) Jeter was coming through the system: 'He's not getting traded,'" said Brian Cashman, the Yankees' longtime general manager, referring to their early-'90s architect and protector of the sixth overall pick in the 1992 MLB Draft. "People would hit on Stick (Michael) about Jeter when he was in the South Atlantic League and the Florida State League, and Gene was always like, 'We're not trading him, we're not trading, we're not trading him!'"
Derek Jeter would justify the Yankees' faith. He became the cornerstone of the revival of the big leagues' glamour franchise and served as a fresh hero for a battered industry. He was exactly who the team and the sport needed, at exactly the right time, collecting five championships and 3,465 hits - sixth on MLB's career list - whle serving as a role model fans could trust.
It all added up to a spellbinding resume that landed Jeter in the Hall of Fame in January on his first try. He received 99.7 percent of the votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the highest percentage ever for a position player.
"This is something that was not a part of the dream when you're playing," Jeter said at a news conference in the afterglow of the announcement. "When you're playing, you're just trying to keep your job."
Lots of players say that, but Jeter demonstrated it before the 1996 season, when he won the A.L. Rookie of the Year Award by hitting .314 with 104 runs scored. The Yankees had installed Jeter as their shortstop that spring, wisely resisting a trade that would have sent Mariano Rivera to the Seattle Mariners for shortstop Felix Fermin. But Jeter never assumed he had a job.
Manager Joe Torre happened to catch a television interview with Jeter that Spring Training. Asked about taking over as the Yankees' starting shortstop, Jeter said: "I'm going to have an opportunity to win the job."
Torre repeats the story often as a way to illustrate Jeter's uncommon humility and maturity.
"He was all about accountability and respect," Torre said," without any sense of entitlement."

L-R: Derek Jeter, Gene Michael, Joe Torre
Jeter had watched the 1995 playoffs from the bench as a non-roster player, after batting .250 with no home runs in his 15-game cameo that season. He announced his presence on Opening Day in Cleveland on April 2, 1996, blasting a home run off Dennis Martinez while hitting ninth in the Yankees lineup. The Indians were the reigning A.L. champions but with that home run, a shift in the majors' power structure was under way.
That season, the Yankees returned to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1981 - when Jeter was 7 years old - and roared back from an 0-2 hole to beat the Braves in six games in the World Series. They triumphed again in 1998, 1999 and 2000, when Jeter hit .409 with two homers to thwart the Mets in New York's first Subway Series since 1956.
Jeter was the Most Valuable Player, of course, which is how it had to be. He was the prince of the city, Superman in spikes. That's how he seemed in October 2001, at least, dashing across the Oakland infield to rescue an errant throw, then flipping the ball to catcher Jorge Posada at the plate to preserve a slim lead in a must-win playoff game. (Watch the play ...)
The Yankees would lose the 2001 World Series and another in 2003, a year best known for their rousing comeback to beat Boston in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Yankees trailed by two runs in the eighth inning that night, five outs from elimination with Sox ace Pedro Martinez on the mound. Jeter's double started their famous game-tying rally, setting up current Yankees manager Aaron Boone's pennant-winning homer in the 11th inning.
"He is the greatest competitor that I have ever had the chance to play with," Boone said following Jeter's Hall of Fame announcement. "If anyone out there epitomizes what a Hall of Famer is, it's Derek Jeter."
It was during the 2003 season that owner George Steinbrenner named Jeter captain, following in the tradition of Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly and others. The role suited Jeter, a natural leader who shared Steinbrenner's competitive ethose.
The Yankees' next championship came in 2009, in their first season at the new Yankee Stadium. In a six-game victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, Jeter batted .407 with 11 hits, a career-high for his 33 Postseason series. His career .838 on-base plus slugging percentage in the Postseason was even better than his .817 mark in the regular season, and in 158 playoff games, he had an even 200 hits.
In other words, while facing the strongest competition and under the most pressure, Jeter found a way to be the best version of himself.
"Everything about him evoked winning," said his first major league manager, Buck Showalter. "With Derek, it was all about the team."
Jeter proudly notes that he played only one game in New York in his entire career with the Yankees eliminated from the Postseason - and it was his very last home game on Sept. 25, 2014. Jeter came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied and a runner at second. He lashed the first pitch from the Orioles' Evan Meek through the right side for a single, a quintessential Jeter hit that scored the winning run.
It was his final fairy tale for a player who lived his dream, and when it was over, Jeter made one last visit to shortstop, saving the stage alone as the cheers washed over him. He played 2,905 games, including the Postseason, and never played another defensive position.
In retirement, however, Jeter has made a significant move - in both location and job. At the end of the 2017 season, he became the chief executive officer and part-owner of the Miami Marlins, who have not reached the Postseason since beating the Yankees in the 2003 World Series.
"I want to win as much as anyone," Jeter said. "I didn't get into this to lose."
He has already done it once, with a playing career that helped restore the Yankees brand and draw back fans to the game. That journey ends now in Cooperstown, but the baseball legacy of Derek Jeter continues.