Before he would simply be known as “The Captain” to Yankees fans across the world, Derek Jeter was born in New Jersey to an African American father and Caucasian mother who met while serving in the U.S. military in Germany. Shortly after Jeter was born, the family moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan—where Jeter would spend the rest of his childhood and his parents would pursue careers in accounting and substance abuse counseling.
Jeter grew into becoming one of the greatest athletes to come out of Michigan. Along with his baseball stardom, Jeter also played basketball and ran cross-country in high school. While admitting to being just a “decent guard” in a 2004 interview, the future baseball legend did take on the likes of Jalen Rose and Chris Webber while playing on the state’s AAU circuit.
But Jeter’s true calling was baseball, and he knew it at a very young age. In the fourth grade, a young Jeter told his teacher he would play shortstop for the New York Yankees. By the time his senior season at Kalamazoo Central rolled around, he was already regarded as one of the best prospects in the country. Jeter was honored as the high school player of the year by Gatorade, USA Today, the American High School Coaches Association during his senior season.
He would forgo an opportunity to play baseball at the University of Michigan on a full scholarship to enter the MLB Draft. It turned out to be a wise decision as Jeter’s favorite club, the Yankees, selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 1992 draft.
After making a brief appearance with the club in 1995, Jeter made history the following year at age 21 by becoming the first rookie shortstop to start Opening Day for the Yankees in more than three decades. Jeter was an immediate impact player for the Bombers—earning A.L. Rookie of the Year honors and helping the Yankees capture their first World Series title since the ’70s.
Jeter’s stellar play, charm and professionalism made him the toast of the town and an instant celebrity in New York. As the Yankees superstar, racked up four World Series titles between 1996 and 2000—often thanks to Jeter’s clutch performances—New York’s newest star began transcending the sport. Jeter was equally likely to appear on the back page of tabloids for his exploits on the field as he was on the front page for whatever big-name celebrity he was spotted with while around town.
Jeter’s iconic career with the Yankees would include a fifth World Series championship in 2009, 14 All-Star Selections, five gold glove awards and five silver slugger awards. His 3,465 career hits are the most ever by a Yankee and rank him sixth on the all-time hits list.