Derek Jeter’s Field
January 5, 2012 – At this time, we are planning for the cover story of the April 2012 issue of Yankees Magazine to be on Derek Jeter.
On December 15 — a few hours after having lunch with Lou Carnesecca — I traveled to Kalamazoo, Michigan to spend some time with Jeter in his hometown and to cover a ceremony at Jeter’s High School in which the baseball field was named after him.
The ceremony took place in the Kalamazoo Central High School auditorium on Friday December 16. Prior to the unveiling of a large sign that reads, “Welcome to Derek Jeter Field, Home of the Kalamazoo Central High School Maroon Giants,” Jeter, along with two of his coaches and the current principal, spoke about the honor.
A few hours before the ceremony, Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello and I met up with Jeter on the field (which was soon to be named after him).
It was the perfect setting for me to interview the Yankees captain about the fact that his name would permanently be attached the field he learned the game on.
Despite some snow flurries, a lot of cold wind and temperatures in the low 20s, Jeter took the time to reminisce about his childhood and the times that he spent on the high school field.
“The house I grew up in is on the other side of that fence,” Jeter said as he pointed to a blue house in the distance. “I used to jump the fence to come to school and to get to this field. I was over here all the time. In fact, I probably spent more time on this field playing baseball with my family than I did with my team.”
I believe this story will be a special read for many reasons, including that fact that not only did Jeter play on this field in high school, but for all intent and purposes, it is where he learned to play the game.
The photos that Petrozzello took of Jeter on the field — which is surrounded by pine trees in a rural setting — are incredible. You will only find these beautifully-lit portraits in this exclusive story, because we were the only people who were given such exclusive access to Jeter on this special day.
I also had the opportunity to capture the words of both of Jeter’s coaches, along with two of his high school teachers. Each of these mentors had their own memories of Jeter before the rest of the world knew him, and each of those recollections will be part of the story.
On a personal note, I am proud of the fact that I have now interviewed Jeter on the field in which he first played competitive baseball, and I also interviewed Alex Rodriguez (for a 2011 feature story in Miami, Florida) on the field where he first played the game.
I’ll leave the rest of the Jeter story to your imagination until Opening Day, but I will share one more quote. As we were walking off the field, Jeter turned to me and said, “I always referred to this as my field. Now, it really is my field.”
–Alfred Santasiere III