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Derek Sanderson Jeter was born June 26th, 1974, to parents Charles Jeter and Dorothy Conner, in Pequannock, New Jersey. When Jeter was four, the family (which includes sister Sharlee) moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. By the age of six, Jeter's grandmother had introduced him to baseball and he began rooting for the Yankees.
Almost immediately, the young Jeter dreamed of playing for the "Bronx Bombers." One of the Yankee players that Derek Jeter looked up to was Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.
Upon entering Kalamazoo High School, Jeter focused his attention on baseball. He wasn't one for getting into trouble, as his father, a substance abuse counselor, was a tremendous influence. Jeter's high-school academic performance was outstanding, and he was named to the National Honor Society.
In his senior year, Jeter batted .508 for the baseball team, with twelve stolen bases. Although he was recruited to go to college, Jeter chose to pursue a baseball career and attend college in the off-season. He was the first high-school player chosen (sixth overall) by the Yankees in the 1992 free agent draft.
While playing for class (a) Tampa in 1992, Jeter batted just .202 and often cried. He was homesick and had a difficult time adjusting to minor league baseball life. But, his nest season was a huge improvement, as he batted .293 for (a) Greensboro. The following season, Jeter enjoyed immense success, as he batted .377 at (aa) Albany and .349 at (aaa) Columbus. He was named the Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year for 1994.
Jeter's 1995 season was split between Columbus and New York. On May 29th, 1995, Jeter made his major league debut with the Yankees. He managed to bat .250 in a limited time with New York, before being optioned back to (aaa) Columbus. Upon completion of the Yankees, 1995 season, manager Joe Torre announced that Derek Jeter would be his starting shortstop the following year.
Having Jeter start the season with New York did wonders for his confidence. He went on to bat .314 and capture the American League's Rookie of the Year award. The Yankees went on to defeat the Atlanta Braves for the World Series title. Jeter batted .360 through all three rounds of the playoffs, cementing himself as one of the best "clutch" performers in all of baseball.
The 1997 season wasn't as productive as his first big league season. Nevertheless, Jeter still managed to score over 100 runs and bat .291. The Yankees did manage to make the playoffs, but were eliminated by Baltimore.
The 1998 season was a magical one for Derek Jeter and the Yankees. Not only did the Yankees have the best record in baseball, but Jeter also made his first all-star appearance. Derek finished the year with career highs in batting average, stolen bases, runs batted in, home runs, and runs scored. The Yankees capped off the season by winning the World Series over San Diego in four games. Jeter had a terrific World Series, batting .353 in the four games.
Looking to better his numbers from 1998, Derek Jeter had yet another career year in 1999. He posted his first 100 RBI season, as well as his first 20 home run year. Jeter led the Yankees to yet another World Series title over Atlanta, batting .375 for the entire postseason.
Although Jeter had another stellar year in 2000, his numbers didn't quite match up to those posted in 1999. After winning the 2000 MVP award for his third all-star game, Jeter made sure he saved his best for the postseason. Despite Jeter batting just .211 in the first round against Oakland, the Yankees managed to advance to the A.L. Championship Series. Facing the Mariners, Jeter improved his eye at the plate to bat .318 in six games.
Dubbed the "Subway Series," Jeter and the Yankees squared off versus their New York counterparts, the Mets. Not since the 1950s had two New York teams faced each other for baseball's most coveted prize. Derek rose to the challenge, as he hit .408 in five games, with two doubles, a triple and two home runs. Derek was awarded the World Series MVP trophy, as the Yankees took home their fourth title in five years.
In 2001, Derek had another phenomenal season, as he topped .300, hit 21 home runs, stole 27 bases and earned another all-star selection. However, despite being the three-time defending champs, the Yankees were not even favored to represent the American League in the World Series. The Seattle Mariners, who lost to New York in the A.L. Championship Series in 2000, had one of the best regular season records ever in 2001.
In the first round of the 2001 playoffs, the Yankees were down two games to none in their best-of-five series with Oakland. With games three and four being played in Oakland, few observers gave New York a chance to win the series. In the final stages of game three, Derek Jeter came up with a play that turned the series around. He was able to make a leaping stab at a ball thrown weakly home, and then quickly relay it home to throw out an Oakland base runner. Had Jeter not made that play, the Yankees might not have won the last three games in the series and advanced to face the Mariners.
Despite the Mariners being favored and Jeter hitting just .118 in the A.L. Championship Series, the Yankees disposed of Seattle in five games. However, the Yankees were not able to successfully defend their title, as the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Yankees in a thrilling seven-game series. Arizona scored the winning run on hit that sailed over Jeter's head and into shallow left field.
Derek Jeter is without a doubt one of the best players in Professional Baseball. And when the sad day arrives when "the captain" hangs up the pinstrips, Jeter will forever be known as one of the best palyers to ever play the game, and will un-doubtly be enshrined with likes of Ruth, DiMaggio, and Gehrig, in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
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