Full disclosure: I'm a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. So, one might think I'd hate on New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter. At the very least, my perspective on The Captain should be skewed so far that there's NO WAY I should be writing an article like this one.
Truth is, I have a lot of respect for Derek Jeter. There, I said it. And you should, too.
If you're a fan of baseball -- Red Sox-Yankees rivalry be damned -- it's difficult to not respect the guy. Jeter works hard, plays hard and inspires greatness in others. Any entrepreneur or other professional should take note of him as a role model. (I almost can't believe I just wrote that, but it's true.)
Related: Why Derek Jeter Is So Admired
As you likely know, Jeter is retiring this season after two decades in Major League Baseball. Today's game against the Baltimore Orioles will be Jeter's final MLB performance in Yankee Stadium. (Unless the game gets postponed due to rain.) His final-final game is scheduled for this Sunday against the Red Sox, in Boston.
To mark the end of an era, here's a look at three reasons Jeter is a true leader:
1. He leads by example.
On the field, Jeter hustles and gets results. Since baseball is a game of stats, here are a few of Jeter's to chew on:
- More than 2,700 games played
- More than 3,400 career hits in nearly 11,200 at-bats
- 260 home runs
- A career .310 batting average with a .377 on-base percentage
- Has played in 14 All-Star games
- Nearly 360 career stolen bases
- Has won five American League Golden Glove awards and just as many Silver Slugger awards
And, yes, the Yankees won the World Series five times with Jeter at shortstop.
If I ever was on the fence about respecting Jeter, my doubts were erased after watching this ridiculous play in a 2004 game against my Red Sox. Jeter blew past then third baseman Alex Rodriguez to make a face-first dive into the stands to nab a foul ball.
Simply spectacular. It's no wonder Jeter has served as the Yankees captain since 2003.
2. He has class.
When have you ever heard about a MLB scandal involving Derek Jeter? Or any type of scandal for that matter? Go on. Can't think of one? That's because Jeter is one classy, upstanding dude.
Sure, his personal life has made the New York City gossip columns from time-to-time. He's had romantic relationships with high-profile celebrities like Mariah Carey (remember that?!) and actresses like Minka Kelly. Otherwise, no fights, no steroids, no legal troubles. For Jeter, it's all about baseball and the Yankees. All the time. No distractions.
He also gives back off the field. In 1996, Jeter founded the Turn 2 Foundation, a charitable organization that motivates young people to "turn away from drugs and alcohol and 'Turn 2' healthy lifestyles."
3. He's humble.
Did you read Jeter's stats outlined above? Have you seen his five World Series Championship rings?
He has a lot to brag about. But he doesn't.
You don't see Jeter singing his own praises on social media like other athletes and celebrities. (He's not even on Twitter.) He hasn't come across as being obsessed with himself, like other players and even his teammates have. You haven't heard him bad-mouthing other players, especially not for his own gain. He's appeared as nothing but professional.
Is Jeter the greatest shortstop to play the game? No. Has he ever won the MVP award? No. Is he the nicest or most charitable person to have ever lived? Again, no and no. But Jeter played the game right, how it's supposed to be played. He's a role model and a leader. For that, he deserves respect -- even from a Red Sox fan.
Though, I still hope the Yankees lose tonight.