While too many professional athletes seem to run amok, Derek Jeter managed to stay on the base paths.
After twenty years of scrutiny in the most invasive media center in the world, what’s the worst thing you know about Jeter?
He’s married with children and has a secret life? No, that’s Alex Rodriguez who can’t stay down.
He’s a steroid cheater who will never make the Baseball Hall of Fame? That title belongs to Barry Bonds and his ‘trainers.’
Jeter kept a clean scorecard during an era of messy lives on and off the diamond. Either he earned his sparkling reputation, or he’s got the best damage control team this side of oil companies who report all is well after drilling platforms explode in the Gulf of Mexico.
No one saw Jeter misinterpret marriage vows after stories of late night rendezvous with iconic celebrity ladies. Sure he dated women hardly anyone stood a chance with, but he acted as a single man.
Jeter could give Tiger Woods a few tips on celebrity dating, but since he’s not married it wouldn’t count. Tiger’s not married anymore either. What could he tell Jeter? Don’t let your future wife find your phone log?
The Captain finally addressed the most damning accusation, that he gave his lady friends gift baskets with an autographed baseball after a night together.
From nymag.com: “Like I’m giving them signed baseballs and pictures of myself on the way out! Who comes up with a story like that?” He laughs, incredulous. “It said the reason people found out was because I gave the same girl the same basket and I had forgotten I’d given her one—like there are so many people coming through I forgot!”
Over the long haul of years in the game, both on and off the field, wouldn’t you expect to see some evidence? In our media frenzy time someone should be able to verify the facts. In a less media-dense time Orson Wells managed to discover a secret of William Randolph Hearst that made its way to Citizen Kane’s sled Rosebud.
No such luck with Jeter.
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Who remembers the Yankee great testifying before congressional hearings on steroids in an oversized suit like Mark McGwire, a suit that used to fit the formerly big Mac? You won’t find video on Jeter impersonating Talking Head’s David Byrne any more than you’ll see him forget how to speak English like Sammy Sosa.
“Did you take steroids?”
Jeter looks like he stayed off the juice. He and Ken Griffey, Jr. have the distinction of leaving the game the same way, clean. No reports of ‘roid rage, needles discovered in his shaving bag, or his name on a laboratory’s list of customers. It’s quite an accomplishment when you consider his teammates included Roger Clemens and Jason Giambi.
From nydailynews.com: “The Mitchell Report identifies Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, two of the biggest pitchers in Bomber history, as steroid cheats, but Joe Torre's aces weren't the only Yankee players alleged to have used the juice: Mike Stanton, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Kevin Brown, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield are also among the recent Yankees named in the report."
With his reputation and legacy intact, what will Jeter do in retirement? Join a broadcast team with Bob Costas? Manage a team like former Yankee Don Mattingly? Spend the rest of his life at sports conventions and card shows signing autographs like Mickey Mantle?
None of the above are in future plans. Instead, Derek Jeter decided today which direction he’ll go, and it makes more sense than any other.
Meet Derek Jeter, blogger. Welcome to the show, buddy. He leaves baseball at the old age of forty and joins the rest of us as a young forty year old. I remember forty. Good baby boomer years.
His new business venture, more than a blog if that’s possible, is a site called The Player’s Tribune.
From time.com: “Just three days into his post-baseball life, Jeter has stolen some attention from this year’s postseason with the announcement that he’s now the “founding publisher” of a new website, The Players’ Tribune. The conceit: a site where athletes can connect directly with fans, unfiltered, presumably at more than the 140 characters than Twitter currently offers.
“The Players’ Tribune aims to provide unique insight into the daily sports conversation and to publish first-person stories directly from athletes,” says a brief mission statement on the site. “From video to podcasts to player polls and written pieces, The Tribune will strive to be “The Voice of the Game.”
If that’s not enough, look for more on Jeter Publishing, his new imprint with Simon and Schuster.
This is no sports-god-wall-flower with a desire to be left alone. With respect to Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and all the ghosts roaming Monument Park inside Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter looks set to raise the bar for all athletes after their playing days end.
David Gillaspie is an active researcher, skills he honed during twenty years with the Oregon Historical Society. His education wavered between English major/Fiction writer at the University of Oregon where he met Ken Kesey, to a BS in History from Portland State with news writing. Married, with two millennial sons, he connects sports and fitness to the realities of baby boomer life, with no mention ever of skydiving or base-jumping. David covers a wide variety of fascinating topics on his boomer-centric blog, Boomer PDX. Check it out -- you'll be glad you did.