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Derek Jeter will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Wednesday. The former Yankees star made a big impression among those whose paths he crossed during his 20-year MLB career with the Yankees.
Here’s what his managers and teammates had to say about him ahead of his induction:
Buck Showalter, Jeter’s first manager in the majors
New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter smiles as he speaks about his 3,000th career hit at a press conference after a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, at Yankee Stadium in New York.
(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
“The first time I saw him was when he was a first-round pick and they brought him to the Stadium. After I met him and his family, he went to the top step of the dugout to watch BP and I saw he was watching everything. He had alert eyes. He was seeing things peripherally. He was skinny and gawky, but you could tell he wanted to learn and that never stopped. Whether it was figuring out how to play shortstop or how to be a big-leaguer, he was always searching for perfection. He understood the weight of his words and chose them carefully and never got himself in trouble with the media. Do you know how hard that is? It was frustrating for the media, but Derek knew what it meant to be a good teammate.”
New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter jumps after hitting the game-winning single against the Baltimore Orioles in the ninth inning of a baseball game, in New York. The Yankees won 6-5. It was Jeter’s last home game of his career at Yankee Stadium.
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
“It was ’13, when he was rehabbing his ankle there. I was sitting at my locker and he came up and said, ‘Hey, Aaron, it’s good to see you.’ I didn’t even think he knew who I was. I think he looked above me and saw my name plate on the locker. But it meant a lot and I remember that when other young or new guys come through here.”
Marcus Thames, teammate of Jeter’s twice
“I came up as a rookie [in 2002] when he was already established and then came back in 2010 and he was doing the same things. That consistency was amazing. He never changed who he was.”
David Cone, teammate during Jeter’s rookie season in 1996
“I’ve never been around anybody more in the moment. I say he’s the best ‘turn the page guy’ I’ve ever been around: Yesterday doesn’t matter, tomorrow doesn’t matter. He’s right in the here and now. Really, from Day 1 he was that way … almost to a fault. At the end of his career, I told him, ‘Hey, it’s OK to enjoy the ride and smell the roses a little bit.’ His nature doesn’t really allow for that. But he was nose to the grindstone all the way through.”
Ichiro, played with Jeter from 2012-14
“One of the toughest things someone can do is do the same thing every single day. I always thought Jeter was the type that had those characteristics. I got to play with him for 2 1/2 years and that’s what he was. He wasn’t as drastic about it as me. I’m a little bit sick, so no one can compare to me. And he’d always say, ‘There’s another one tomorrow. Until you win the World Series, you don’t show real happiness.’ He was always preparing for the next game.”
Joe Girardi, teammate when Jeter was a rookie, manager at end of Jeter’s career
“Playing with him, you always wanted him up in big situations and having the ball hit to him in big situations. The greatest compliment you can give a player is you never have to worry about them. And with Derek, you never had to worry about anything. He was always relaxed. I saw that as a rookie. Even in tough situations, he never changed who he was. He was never worried about who might take his job or if he had a bad day, having it turn into two or three bad days.”
Mark Teixeira, teammate, 2009-16
“The best piece of advice I got after I signed with the Yankees was from Tino Martinez, who told me, ‘Do what Derek does.’ That first year in New York after signing a big contract is such a whirlwind. Derek helped me navigate it. If there was a book about how to perform and act on the big stage, how to treat coaches, teammates, the fans and media, Derek should write it.”
David Wright, Mets captain when Jeter was Yankees captain, Team USA teammate in 2009 World Baseball Classic
“With our schedule, our paths very rarely crossed, so I looked forward to playing with him for Team USA. I followed him everywhere and it was eye-opening how hard he worked for the player he was. Davey Johnson was the manager and we were playing an exhibition game and Derek wasn’t in the lineup. Derek didn’t like the way his swing felt, so he asked Davey if he could have some at-bats late in the game, which said something about him, since this was spring training. I was the DH, so Derek came in for me to get the at-bats, and to this day, I still have the lineup card with my name crossed out and Derek’s underneath it.”
Joe Torre, Jeter’s manager from 1996-2007
“I had just gotten there in 1996 and we had Tony Fernandez, who was more established, but people kept saying Jeter was the guy. Then he had a bad spring and we were talking about different options, but he never changed. And we wound up letting him play and he went out that first game in Cleveland and made a great play and hit a homer and he was off the races. By August, our veterans were looking to him in key situations because he had become so reliable already. I had never seen that before in a rookie. And he kept coming through.”
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