Derek Jeter had his 20 year professional baseball career come to an end this season. While he is widely regarded for being one of the best players in the history of the sport, Derek Jeter has also built an extremely positive public image during his playing career. In an age where most sports stars are getting arrested or caught using illegal steroids, Derek Jeter has maintained his clean cut image throughout his entire career, and he needs to be considered a public relations mastermind for achieving this great feat.
The Steroid Era in Professional Baseball
Derek Jeter came up with the New York Yankees in 1995, which is directly in the middle of the steroid era. While a lot of the players in the league were using illegal substances to get stronger, Derek Jeter has never been come under speculation for cheating. Several top players of the area including Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and even Jeter’s teammates Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite have all been caught using steroids during their some of their best seasons. Following such a troubled era in professional baseball, the fans were desperate to root for players that they knew would not get caught cheating. Derek Jeter quickly became the face of the MLB and he would carry this lofty title the rest of his career.
Derek’s Impact on the Yankees
Derek Jeter’s ability to maintain his clean image is even more impressive when you realize he played his entire career for the New York Yankees. The Yankees are arguably the biggest baseball team in the world, and they also play in the biggest city in the United States. This means Yankee players are under constant scrutiny from the media and fans, which can be very hard to handle for some players. Randy Johnson notoriously shoved a camera man his first week with the New York Yankees because he was tired of being filmed while walking down the street. Derek Jeter faced this level of media coverage on a daily basis, but he never succumbed to any bad urges.
Derek Jeter’s image ultimately had an extremely positive effect on the Yankees. While he helped lead the team to five different World Series championships during his career, Jeter has helped the Yankees maintain their image. The New York Yankees are the most iconic team in the MLB, and they are best known for the all-time greats that have put on the uniform. Not many organizations have more than one player of the caliber of Jeter, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle play for their organization, but all of these players spent most of their career with the New York Yankees. The Yankees went several decades without an iconic player for young fans to look up to, but they found it with Derek Jeter. He continued the great Yankee tradition, and a new set of fans will have an iconic player to idolize until they find another great ambassador of the sport.
The Farewell Tour
Derek Jeter’s ability as a public relations mastermind was never more evident than during his farewell tour. Every time Derek Jeter was playing in a city for the last time, he would receive a gift from the home team. While this has been done before for other players, it did not receive the attention and media coverage of Derek Jeter’s farewell tour. Commercials praising Jeter during his final season played on an endless loop in New York and the rest of the world. You could not watch a few minutes of sports coverage without hearing about Derek Jeter. Everyone in the baseball community wanted one last chance to see Derek Jeter play before he retired, and there are very few players can claim this feat. Since his skills had clearly diminished in his final years, all of these fans just wanted one last chance to support the face of baseball before he would leave the game forever.
Jeter’s Life Outside Baseball
It was so easy to love Derek Jeter because of his skills on the field, but his personality off the field certainly helped his image. Jeter created a charity to help the youth avoid alcohol and drug addition in Michigan, New York and Tampa after being a member of the New York Yankees for only two years. Since its inception in 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has raised over $17 million. Derek Jeter was even honored by the MLB for his work in the community when he was award the Roberto Clemente Award in 2009.
Derek Jeter’s ability to keep his name in the news without ever having a single bad comment released about him is unmatched by any professional sports star. There have been several great players that were also amazing human beings, but nobody maximized these traits like the public relations mastermind Derek Jeter.