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updated: 7/15/2014 10:00 PM

Yankees' Jeter true star of stars

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  • Playing in his final All-Star Game, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter waves as he is taken out in the fourth inning Tuesday night at Target Field in Minneapolis.

      Playing in his final All-Star Game, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter waves as he is taken out in the fourth inning Tuesday night at Target Field in Minneapolis.
    Associated Press

 
 

It takes all kinds to make up a sports team -- any team in any industry, for that matter -- and Derek Jeter basically is one of a kind.

Baseball fans might wonder why all players can't be like this guy.

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You know, treat people like you want them to treat you. Stay off the police blotter. Avoid the scandal sheets. Tame New York City. All while playing Hall of Fame baseball.

Must be harder than it looks because few athletes have conducted themselves the way Derek Jeter has for the past 20 years.

No wonder Jeter was celebrated Tuesday night as the centerpiece of the final All-Star Game before he retires at the end of the season.

Jeter received standing ovations during pregame introductions, when he came up to bat in the first inning and when Alexei Ramirez ceremoniously replaced him at the beginning of the fourth inning.

Naturally, Jeter doubled and singled in 2 at-bats, just another momentous moment that he rose to in his career.

Jeter left to hugs and handshakes and thank yous and overall the respect and reverence that a select few have earned.

Every athlete in every sport would love to be loved like that, right? So why don't they all behave the way Jeter has?

Because they can't. Because not all human beings are blessed with the same mental, emotional and physical makeup. Because Jeter is who he is and other players have to be who they are.

No one can just become Derek Jeter any more than players the past 25 years have become what Pete Rose was as a player.

The question a generation ago was why don't all baseball players hustle like Charlie Hustle?

Well, they don't because it's harder than it looks. Nobody quite has had Rose's combination of mentality and ability.

Just as nobody has had whatever it is that Jeter has. Some have had his sense of right and wrong, some have had his talent, but only a few like Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn have had both.

That's OK. If everybody could be like Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter being Derek Jeter wouldn't be so special.

Better that it really does take all kinds to make up a team, even an all-star team.

In football, Johnny Manziel won't become Peyton Manning. In basketball, Metta World Peace couldn't be Tim Duncan. In hockey, not even Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane can be clones of each other.

Every locker room is populated by persons of different colors, different religions, different cultures, different sexual orientations, different political leanings, different tastes in fashion, different ethics, different IQ levels, different etiquettes …

So, no, not everyone can be Derek Jeter any more than everyone could be Pete Rose and run to first base on a walk, crash into the catcher in an All-Star Game and generally play with his hair on fire.

All that Major League Baseball can do is be thankful that the one and only Derek Jeter graced the game for the past two decades.

"How lucky can this sport be," Commissioner Bud Selig said at his annual All-Star Game news conference, "to have the icon of this generation turn out to be Derek Jeter?"

Best of all is that the Yankees' shortstop/captain/conscience comes across as who he is rather than who he's trying to be or who someone else manufactured him to be.

"I sure fooled you, didn't I?" Selig said Jeter said to him. Then the commissioner added, "But if he fooled me, he fooled everyone else."

More likely Derek Jeter genuinely is one of a kind in the best sense of the term.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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