September 25, 2014 – There are millions of people who have undoubtedly echoed these sentiments, but I can’t believe tonight is Derek Jeter’s final game in pinstripes. It feels like yesterday when DJ caught our attention for the first time time. That was 20 years ago.
I have had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with the Yankees captain for the final twelve seasons of his career, and it’s been one of the great honors of my life.
When I found a minute in which Jeter was alone at his locker yesterday, I shared those thoughts with him. I told him how lucky I felt to have been one of the people — in what is a small group — to have gotten to know him. The fact that Jeter took the time to offer a thoughtful response and reminisce with me for a few minutes added to what is a lifetime of fond memories I have. It also underscores his class and patience, which is unwavering — even at a time when the whole world is trying to talk to him.
After a day full of rain — during which it seemed as if tonight’s game might never get played — the storm clouds made way to an orange and blue sky over Yankee Stadium, and a rainbow covered parts of the Bronx.
The capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium filled every seat before Jeter was introduced for the final time in pinstripes. And, with a large contingent of press photographers assembled in front of the outside part of the home dugout, Jeter led his team onto the field. Out of respect for their captain, Jeter’s teammates waited until he got to his familiar position at shortstop before running out of the dugout.
When Jeter emerged, the crowd roared, and began to chant “Der-ek Jee-ter” until the shortstop tipped his cap several times.
Nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. Not the weather. Not the two home runs that Baltimore Orioles batters Nick Markakis and Alejendro De Aza hit before Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda recorded the first out of the game.
When the late Bob Sheppard announced Jeter’s name in the bottom of the first inning in a recorded introduction, the crowd was already standing and cheering.
Jeter took the first four pitches of the at-bat from lefthander Kevin Gausman.
Then, the captain did what I believe he has done better than anyone in the history of the game. He delivered in a big moment. Jeter showed his flare for the dramatic by smacking a line drive to left-center field, missing a home run by a few feet and putting the Yankees on the board.
As Jeter stood on second base, the volume in the Stadium remained on high. For the Yankees faithful, it was one of many moments to remember. He’s authored a lifetime worth of those moments in his career.
–Alfred Santasiere III
September 23, 2014 — On August 8, Yankees staff photographer Matthew Ziegler snapped the last New York Yankees team photo that Derek Jeter will appear in. The photo (below) will serve as the poster for the October Issue of Yankees Magazine.
You can purchase a print of the 2014 New York Yankees team photo by calling (800) GO-YANKS or by visiting http://www.yankees.com/publications.
When I asked Jeter about his memories of the 20 Yankees team photos he has posed for, the captain began to laugh.
“I should be pretty good at it by now,” Jeter said. “I have certainly done it enough times. I know exactly where I’m supposed to stand before you tell me. But it’s fun to see the younger guys try to figure out where they need to be.”
–Alfred Santasiere III
September 19, 2014 – A little more than a week after I interviewed the greatest basketball player of all-time, I sat down with arguably the greatest football player in history.
On September 17, I interviewed Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice at NYY Steak in Manhattan for an Art of Sport Q&A feature that will appear in an in issue of Yankees Magazine next season. I will preview that piece before the start of the 2015 campaign. But for now, take a gander at what Rice said about Derek Jeter. Unlike my interview with Michael Jordan ten days earlier, my conversation with Rice took place after we printed the DJ Commemorative — meaning that you can only read the gridiron great’s words about Jeter below.
–Alfred Santasiere III
What a great career Derek has had. The way he has conducted himself on and off the field is an inspiration to all of us. He has been a great role model to kids throughout the world. Derek has always played the game the right way, and he stands for everything that’s good in sports. There are not enough athletes like Derek, and he is someone that you don’t take for granted. He’s a class act.
September 19, 2014 — As I wrote in a blog entry below, the Derek Jeter Commemorative Edition of Yankees Magazine includes a photo essay from Derek Jeter Day.
Below are a few of my favorite photos from the September 7 festivities at Yankee Stadium. If you like these images, be sure to pick up a copy of the DJ Commemorative, because there are several more incredible photos of Jeter throughout the pages of the special publication.
–Alfred Santasiere III
September 19, 2014 — Two days after I sat down with the greatest hockey player in history, I had the privilege of asking the all-time greatest basketball player a few questions about Derek Jeter.
During the Derek Jeter Day festivities at Yankee Stadium, Michael Jordan spoke to me about the captain — at Yankee Stadium. Jordan’s words (below) are included in the Derek Jeter Commemorative Edition of Yankees Magazine — along with those of Wayne Gretzky.
–Alfred Santasiere III
One of the things that every professional athlete strives for is perfection. We work hard every day to try to improve our craft. If you do things the right way and you are as dedicated as Derek, you tend to respond under pressure. Pressure situations determine who has put forth the most effort, and it’s very obvious that Derek has. He has prepared the right way. When he gets into the workout area, he really works. That type of dedication is a gift that the best athletes have. Derek has been put into situations that he can succeed in because of the way he has worked. I was able to succeed in the big situations I’ve been in, and we all take pride in the dedication that made it possible to have that success. Great athletes thrive under pressure because they prepare themselves for pressure. Derek has always responded the right way under pressure. You have to give credit to him and to his parents, who instilled a strong work ethic in him.
I played alongside Derek in the Arizona Fall League. That was the first time I actually met him, and even back then, he was a great leader, just by the way he carried himself.
Winning happens because of great leadership, and it doesn’t surprise me that Derek has won five championships and been successful from the time he got to the big leagues. Derek is well-respected not just by his teammates, but by everyone in sports. He’s a champion and an idol.
September 19, 2014 – A few days before Derek Jeter Day, I traveled to Toronto, Canada to interview Wayne Gretzky for a first-person vignette on Derek Jeter that is part of the DJ Commemorative and for an Art of Sport feature that will appear in the April 2015 Issue of Yankees Magazine. I will preview my Q&A feature on the life and career of the greatest hockey player in the history of the sport before the start of next season. But for now, enjoy Gretzky’s words about Jeter.
–Alfred Santasiere III
There are professional athletes who understand that there is more to being a professional athlete than just playing the sport. Obviously, if you’re a professional athlete, there’s a lot that goes along with it. You play the game. You cooperate with the media. You treat your teammates well, and you understand that the fans are the most important part of it all. If you understand that those components are part of your everyday workload, things are a lot easier. Mark Messier used to say that there isn’t one thing about hockey that he didn’t love, and that included playing the game, the travel, signing autographs and answering the media’s questions. Derek is the exact same way. He understands the importance of what he brings to the Yankees and to the game of baseball.
I applaud Derek for announcing that this would be his last year. It gave baseball fans, Derek’s teammates and the players on other teams the chance to say goodbye to him. We can never get enough positive things in sports, and when you have someone who has done as much as Derek has and has meant as much to sports as Derek has, it gets no better than that. Derek deserves all the recognition he has received.
As a professional athlete, you want your last year to be parallel to your first year, but you can’t expect to have the same type of year you had when you were in your prime. Derek’s having a respectable season, and he’s leaving the game at the right time. If you give your heart and soul to the game the way Derek has, fans —especially those in New York — will support you to the end. They love Derek for what he has accomplished for the city and the team.
September 19, 2014 – As I detailed on this blog throughout the summer, I have had the opportunity to speak to several athletes throughout sports, as well as some special people in other walks of life, about Derek Jeter. I have captured their words for first-person vignettes about the Yankees captain, and I enjoyed every one of those interviews.
While the group of people whose words we published in the September Issue is impressive, we have assembled an even greater collection of vignettes for the Derek Jeter Commemorative Edition of Yankees Magazine (see blog entry below).
In an interview that I conducted at the beginning of September, baseball legend Hank Aaron shared his thoughts about the Jeter. As you’ll read in the text below, Aaron discussed the first time he met Jeter. Fittingly, that meeting took place in a ballpark that we also published a feature about in DJ Commemorative.
–Alfred Santasiere III
When Derek was a young player, I got to meet him at the 1999 All-Star Game in Fenway Park. I was there to take part in the pregame ceremony, and I couldn’t wait to talk to him. I had already seen him play a few times, and I was impressed by the way he approached the game. You don’t see as many people in sports that take the game as seriously as Derek. I just wanted to find out what made him think the way he did.
When I got the chance to speak with Derek, it didn’t surprise me that he was just as I had imagined he would be. He’s a nice person, and that has stood out in my mind as much as his consistent approach to the game.
Derek has shown me the utmost respect every time I have been around him. He speaks to me as if my career was something that was marvelous. Derek really looks at history and says, “Hey, some guys before me did some great things, and I want to be as great as they were.”
Derek has always had the ability to play the game at a high level, but his ability to play the same way every day is remarkable. There are a lot of players who play the game one way on a Monday, and by Friday, they are just trying to get by. That’s never been the case with Derek.
Without that approach, without treating every at-bat as if it were the most important one of the game, Derek would not have collected more than 3,000 hits. You really have to sit back and admire Derek simply because he never says, “Well I got 200 hits last year. If I get another 200 next year, that would be great.” Instead, Derek always wants to improve on what he did the year before.
I had the same attitude when I was playing. If I hit 35 home runs and drove in 100 runs, I felt there was room for improvement. There’s always room for improvement, and it was nice to learn that Derek has had the same approach to the game as me.
Derek deserves all the accolades he’s gotten this year because he has worked hard throughout his career. He’s been a great fielder, a great base runner, and although he hasn’t hit a lot of home runs, he has hit a few very important ones.
What Derek has done — playing his entire career with the Yankees and winning five World Series championships — is unheard of these days. Right now, Derek is focused on adding to what he’s already done, but when he looks back on what he’s accomplished five years from now, he should marvel at it. He’s been a great ballplayer. He has carried himself perfectly, and I don’t know of any other ballplayer who can say that. He’s been one of a kind.
September 19, 2014 – In a recent post on this blog, I wrote that the September Issue of Yankees Magazine is the best one in the history of the publication. While I’m still beaming with pride about the September Issue, I believe that our most recent publication is equally as impressive.
The Derek Jeter Commemorative Edition of Yankees Magazine is on sale now at Yankee Stadium, by calling (800) GO-YANKS or by visiting http://www.yankees.com/publications.
This special edition of Yankees Magazine, which is dedicated entirely to the captain, is one of the great Derek Jeter keepsakes you will ever find.
The cover features a photograph of Jeter taken by contributing photographer Tom DiPace at the old Yankee Stadium. In the black and white image, Jeter is walking through the tunnel that led players to the home dugout, and as he did every time he walked down the passageway, he is touching the famous sign with Joe DiMaggio’s words from 1949: “I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee.”
In addition to featuring some of the most exclusive stories on Jeter that were published in the September Issue — including managing editor Nathan Maciborski’s retrospective on the captain’s career, my Q&A with the Yankees shortstop and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and my first-person story with Jeter’s parents about their son’s childhood, this publications has so much more.
Contributing writer Mark Feinsand’s feature on Jeter’s memories of playing at Fenway Park is exceptional, and senior editor Jon Schwartz’ piece on how former Yankees scout Dick Groch found Jeter in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and recommended that the team draft him is an absolute must read.
Speaking of Kalamazoo, I traveled there a few years ago and spent some time with Jeter on the field that he played high school baseball on (on the day it was re-named Derek Jeter Field). We included the story on Jeter’s hometown and his upbringing —originally published in 2012 — in this special publication.
We also re-printed the very first stories ever published about the captain in Yankees Magazine, including a feature from the June 1992 issue. In Yankees Magazine’s first mention of Jeter, former editor Tom Bannon details the young shortstop’s ability and potential in a draft re-cap story.
The photographs in the DJ Commemorative are also spectacular, especially the images in a photo essay on Derek Jeter Day, which took place on September 7.
Finally, one of the most special elements of the publication is an eight-page, pullout. The classy piece is a timeline that details Jeter’s greatest hits and most significant milestones in pinstripes.
This is a time to reflect on one of the great careers in baseball history, and through the pages of the Derek Jeter Commemorative Edition, you will be able to do that during the captain’s final days in uniform and for years to come.
Enjoy this special publication.
–Alfred Santasiere III
August 23, 2014 – The September Issue of Yankees Magazine will be on sale September 2, when the Yankees take on the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
You can purchase a subscription to the print version of Yankees Magazine by calling (800) GO-YANKS, and you can purchase a print or digital subscription by visiting http://www.yankees.com/publications.
In my opinion, this edition is the best one in the history of the publication. The entire issue is dedicated to Derek Jeter, one of the single most storied players to ever wear the pinstripes, and each of stories on the captain are as exclusive as they are special.
Managing editor Nathan Maciborski’s cover story is a career retrospective about Jeter. In the feature, Maciborski captures the essence of what Jeter has meant to those who have followed him for the better part of 20 years. The feature also offers insight from those who have worked closely with Jeter into what has set him apart from his peers.
As I detailed on this blog over the past few months, I wrote three features for this issue, including a Q&A with Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and Jeter at Wrigley Field, a first-person story with Jeter’s parents and a behind-the-scenes look at the captain’s final All-Star Game.
For two special “Art of Sport” pieces, I sat down with Hall of Fame shortstops Cal Ripken Jr. and Ozzie Smith in Cooperstown, New York, and those interviews are must reads.
Other than the Bomber Bites section, which is a roundup of current news briefs, every other story is about Jeter. The Minor League Report details Jeter’s first few years in the Yankees organization, and the Where Are They Now article provides an update on Dick Groch, the former Yankees scout who found Jeter, then a high school star in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
You’ll find first-person vignettes about Jeter from great Yankees and icons from other teams, other sports and other walks of life sprinkled throughout the pages of this special issue. Whether it’s Hal Steinbrenner, David Ortiz, Paul Molitor, Eli Manning, Mark Messier or any Yankees great you can image, their words are on the pages of this issue.
Lastly, this edition features three covers. The cover that will be available all month long anywhere Yankees Magazine is sold features a photo of Jeter from the spring of 2009. The second cover, which will only be available at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 7 — when the team is planning to honor the shortstop in a special pregame ceremony, is graced with a beautiful photo of Jeter at the Stadium. On Sept. 25, Derek Jeter is scheduled to play in his final regular-season game in the Bronx, and a portrait of the captain taken earlier this season will be on the cover that will be available that night at the Stadium.
Enjoy this extraordinary edition of Yankees Magazine.
–Alfred Santasiere III
August 22, 2014 – The third annual edition of Yankees Magazine en Español will be on sale on September 2, when the Yankees take on the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Without a doubt, this year’s Spanish-language publication is the best one we’ve put out. For starters, the cover features a beautiful portrait of Derek Jeter that Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello took in the bullpen at George M. Steinbrenner Field during the captain’s final spring training. In the photo, the stoic shortstop is sitting in front of the wide expense of the field and the huge Y-A-N-K-E-E-S graphic that hangs above the seats on the left side of the ballpark.
The cover story on Jeter, scribed by contributing writer Jorge Arangure Jr., delves into Jeter’s popularity in Latin America, where so many youngsters revere him.
I got an idea of how universal Jeter’s appeal is when I was in Panama with the Yankees in March. Every time I was in a public area with Jeter — walking through the airport, getting on a team bus at the hotel, walking out of the ballpark — the excitement among the crowds of people was off the charts.
As Arangure describes in his story, Jeter is not only admired, followed and emulated by fans in Latin America but also by the great majority of young ballplayers.
The reason for the team’s trip to Panama was to honor Mariano Rivera in his home country. The Yankees played two games against the Miami Marlins in Rivera’s homeland, and a special pre-game ceremony for the closer was held before the first game. Rivera also took his teammates to the Panama Canal during the trip. I was fortunate enough to witness all of it, and I also conducted a lengthy interview with Rivera during the first game of the “Series of the Legend,” for a feature that is included in Yankees en Español.
I also traveled to Puerto Rico to spend a few days with legendary centerfielder Bernie Williams in his homeland. My story on Williams is one of the favorite pieces I’ve written, mainly because the subject cared so deeply about making it special and historic. From visiting the first field that Williams played baseball on to the field where he was playing when a Yankees scout discovered him, to his high school, I covered all the bases in Puerto Rico. And, my conversation with Williams’ mother and brother shed light on why Williams was a great baseball player and why his humility and kindness will always stand out.
A few months before my trip to Puerto Rico, executive editor Ken Derry traveled to the Dominican Republic to explore how so many prospects — as well as a few star players — hone their craft at the Yankees Baseball Academy. In Derry’s exclusive story, he illustrates the unique challenge of making it in professional baseball.
A little closer to home, I found a real diamond in the rough. The most extensive collection of rare treasures from the life of Roberto Clemente are on display in the Pittsburgh museum — in an old firehouse — that bears his name. If you’re interested in learning about the legacy of Clemente, whose pioneering paved the way for countless Spanish-speaking ballplayers who followed him to the United States, I encourage you to read my story on the museum.
Lastly, there is a Q&A feature with Cuban native Gloria Estefan in this publication. I interviewed the seven-time Grammy Award winner last fall in New York City, and Estefan spoke with me about a wide array of topics that made for an interesting piece.
Enjoy this annual publication.
–Alfred Santasiere III