When the New York Yankees square off against the Houston Astros Tuesday, it’ll mark the 17th time in Derek Jeter’s career that he’s been the team’s starting shortstop on Opening Day.
In honor of the upcoming retirement of the Yankees’ captain, here is a baseball card retrospective of his career.
Twenty-two years ago, the Yankees drafted a skinny shortstop had a terrible swing and looked thirteen.
However, he filled out and moved up the ladder in the Yankees’ organization…quickly developing a superhero-like reputation!
By 1995, Jeter was “Next in Line” to be the shortstop of the Yankees and a heartthrob a generation of New York schoolgirls.
Heartthrob? Heck, he was a “Ticket Stud”!
In 1996, he was named the American League Rookie of the Year, helping the upstart Yankees (yes, kids, they really were underdogs back then) defeat the mighty Atlanta Braves in the World Series.
Check out Jeter’s smack talk…”[An Atlanta paper] said the ’27 Yankees couldn’t beat the Braves. But they forgot about the ’96 Yankees.”
By 2000, Jeter was a full-on superstar, and one of the best post-season performers of all time. He won four of his five World Series rings in the first five seasons of his career. His home run on the first pitch of Game 4 of the 2000 Subway Series was just one of many “Monumental Moments” for him.
Though criticized for a lack of range, Jeter had some big defensive highlights…like his flip throw to nail Jeremy Giambi at the plate and preserve a 1-0 Yankee win in the 2001 ALDS.
The bulk of his career came in the late-90s’-early’00’s era, when card companies did a lot of strange things. For example:
“Mining for Gold”?
In Soviet Russia (or 1997 Leaf), glove catches you!
Can. Not. Resist.
If Jeter played in the psychedelic 60s.
Sports Illustrated, best known for making swimsuit magazines, had a brief foray into baseball-card-making in the late 90s and gave us this spectacular crotch shot.
No words…just lots of purple.
Hey girl, how about a spring fling?
Nothing says “21st Century” like a pink techno-grid.
One can’t talk about Jeter’s baseball card career without mentioning Topps’ lame (but attention-getting) publicity stunt, badly Photoshopping images of George Bush and Mickey Mantle onto a short-print version of the captain’s 2007 card.
Coverage of Jeter’s last game will probably be aired on every channel.
But don’t worry, he will be with us for all of eternity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bo Rosny is The Hall of Very Good’s resident baseball expert. You can read more from him at his website Baseball Cards Come to Life.