When I first picked up this book I thought I would just get a rehash of the things written by others and a series of "cliche-type" quotes that Derek has always given. Mr. O'Connor has done some impressive research to peel back the onion so to speak on Derek Jeter's inner person. He also tells the tale in a very compelling fashion that made this book difficult to put down.
He goes back to the story of Jeter's grandparents and the work ethic that was always brought about by Jeter's grandfather. This ethic was later drilled into Derek by his grandfather. His mother Dot was also heavily influenced by her father and married Derek's father at a time when interracial marriages were still considered "shocking." Derek also bonded closely with his sister and even defended her honor a few times.
Derek was from the start always sure that he would be a Yankee shortstop and marry Mariah Carey. He lived his entire childhood and teenage years with this dream. Each time something would go wrong with him it seemed like the perfect coach or mentor came along to right him. He was the top high school player and the year the Yankees drafted him they had the six pick. O'Connor unfolds how the draft went down in such a way that even though the reader knows where Derek wound up, you still have your doubts as the suspense of the picking builds.
Even when Derek finally decides on the Yankees, the author makes you so sure that he will be Bill Freehan's shortstop at the University of Michigan.
Very much like Mickey Mantle, Derek had an incredibly rough first year in the minors and would run up big phone bills calling home crying, doubting his decision to bypass college and feeling like a total washout. Again it was through mentors (like Don Mattingly and others) that he was able to become a good fielder and turn his minor league career around.
Several times he, as well as another struggler in the early days of the minor leagues, Mario Rivera came close to being traded a few times. In his rookie year, Clyde King wanted him sent back to minors but it was the fatherly Joe Torre as well as a few others that helped him.
O'Connor is an excellent writer and I will try to look for more of his works. I now know that Mr. Cool of the Yankees was many times far from cool and as human as the rest of us especially early in his baseball career.
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Every spring, Little Leaguers across the country mimic his stance and squabble over the right to wear his number, 2, the next number to be retired by the world’s most famous ball team. Derek Jeter is their hero. He walks in the footsteps of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle, and someday his shadow will loom just as large. Yet he has never been the best player in baseball. In fact, he hasn’t always been the best player on his team. But his intangible grace and Jordanesque ability to play big in the biggest of postseason moments make him the face of the modern Yankee dynasty, and of America’s game.
In The Captain, best-selling author Ian O’Connor draws on extensive reporting and unique access to Jeter that has spanned some fifteen years to reveal how a biracial kid from Michigan became New York’s most beloved sports figure and the enduring symbol of the steroid-free athlete. O’Connor takes us behind the scenes of a legendary baseball life and career, from Jeter’s early struggles in the minor leagues, when homesickness and errors in the field threatened a stillborn career, to his heady days as a Yankee superstar and prince of the city who squired some of the world’s most beautiful women, to his tense battles with former best friend A-Rod. We also witness Jeter struggling to come to terms with his declining skills and the declining favor of the only organization he ever wanted to play for, leading to a contentious ...