I Want a Sales Force of Derek Jeters

Courtesy Robert Sabo/News

Queuing up the Yankee ballgame on my iPhone, in hopes of seeing Derek Jeter hit number 3,000, evoked childhood memories of my very first mobile device. My father cashed in wrappers from the countless cigars he smoked to give me the most popular electronic communication device in history.

I was 8 or 9 years old when he called me into the living room to watch him set it up. He opened the back and loaded the batteries before sliding it into the tan leather case. He turned it on, tested it, and said “Here’s the ear phone” as he handed it to me.

The transistor radio changed the world in its day, it made entertainment portable. On a sunny day, you could go to the beach or park without missing a game. It was the beginning of mobile life. We listened to our favorite announcers talk about Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in a way that made you feel like you were sitting in the ball park.

Now I was sitting on the patio of a local restaurant, overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, waiting to have lunch with my daughter and “watch” a Yankee game from a “phone!” The glass of wine I sipped was extra crisp and meaningful when we watched Derek Jeter’s 2,999th hit. Before we finished eating, Derek put one over the fence for number 3,000. He’s the 28th ballplayer to do it and only the second to have done it with a home run.

A few days ago, I remarked that I would love a sales force of Derek Jeters. The choice has nothing to do with his celebrity and everything to do with his character, personality, and attitude. The crowd would have cheered for hours because they love him, and with good reason. Even the Rays and ex-teammate Johnny Damon joined the standing ovation to honor #2.

Although Jeter was on the disabled list with an injury until last week, and has unexciting stats this year, he made the All Star team for the twelfth time. So what makes this guy so special?

Despite the constant leveraging of free agent status for more money that sends ballplayers to different clubs at a staggering rate, “Jete” has been a Yankee for his entire sixteen year career. Loyalty means more to him than making a few million dollars more. Loyalty is the cement of great teams and that’s one of the many reasons he has the rare honor of being the Yankees 13th team captain.

In a sport rocked by steroids, a litany of scandals and controversy, you never hear a bad word about this scandal-free guy. He’s never in the tabloids for anything scandalous. After his weak performance last year, with his contract expired, there were concerns about the Yankees resigning him.

After the Yankees publicized the negotiations all he had to say was “I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t angry about how some of this went; the negotiations were supposed to be private,” a class act. Nevertheless, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said of the Yankee captain: “If you had a daughter, you’d want her to marry Derek Jeter. He’s a great person.”

He finished this historic game with 5 hits including the game winning RBI, but as always, this gentleman never glorified his accomplishments. Here are some quotes from the post-game interview with Yankees announcer Kimberly Jones:

“The most important thing is we were able to win and I was happy I had the chance to contribute.”

“I wasn’t trying to do it (3,000 hits). I just come out here and try to play hard every day and if you do that, I guess good things happen.”

When asked what he would say to the fans, “I’m glad I did it here. Thanks for coming, thanks for the support throughout the years. I’m most happy that I hit them all in this uniform, playing for this organization.” -Derek Jeter

George Steinbrenner was known as being one tough boss. He paid his players more than anyone else, demanded a lot, was outspoken about it, and rarely paid a compliment for what he felt was due him. Yet here is what he said of his team captain:

“I have always been very, very careful about giving such a responsibility to one of my players, but I cannot think of a single player that I have ever had who is more deserving of this honor than Derek Jeter. He is a young man of great character and has shown great leadership qualities. He believes, as I do, what General (Douglas) MacArthur said, that ‘there is no substitute for victory.’ To him, and to me, it’s second only to breathing.” – George Steinbrenner

Derek JeterReal heroes and heroines aren’t perfect, but they share certain qualities that make them who and what they are: commitment, consistency, courtesy, discipline, enthusiasm, friendship, helpfulness, honor, humility, kindness, loyalty, passion, optimism, teammanship, and a tremendous work ethic.

Even fans who hate the Yankees love Jeter. That’s the kind of person I want selling on my team.