Friday, June 1, 2012

Derek Jeter, Twenty Years Later

On Monday, June 1, 1992, I was in the Army stationed in Camp Castle, South Korea, ten miles south of the DMZ.  I was probably out in the field that day doing training.  We were usually out in the field every two weeks.  If not, I was on post doing maintenance on our broken down armored personnel carrier.  The APC was usually broken down so that's how I know I was probably doing that. Thousands of miles away, the future of my baseball fandom was changing. Of course, I didn't know it at the time.  In fact, the MLB draft was little publicized then.  Heck, it's really not publicized now, unlike its heavily promoted counterparts in the NBA and NFL drafts. Even back then they were huge televised events with picks announced on live TV and the drafted players coming on stage to take pictures with the commissioner.  MLB? The draft is done on a conference call and no players are in attendance.

Well, on that Monday, the New York Yankees got a little bit of a baseball miracle.  The Yanks, who were terrible at the time, had the 6th selection in the draft and their highest rated player was a skinny high school shortstop out of Kalamazoo, Michigan named Derek Sanderson Jeter. The first five teams surprisingly passed on him.  The Houston Astros had the top pick and, famously, their top scout and Hall of Fame pitcher Hal Newhouser quit in protest after the draft because his superiors failed to heed his pleas that the team draft Jeter.

Jeter slipped passed the other four pics and when it came to the Yanks, the team officials were giddy beyond belief. Yet there was some reservation because Jeter had a scholarship in hand to go to Michigan. Yankees longtime scout Dick Groch, who had had followed Jeter the most, allayed his superior's fears by proclaiming, "He's not going to Michigan.  He's going to Cooperstown."  And Mr. Groch proved precient, because once Jeter's stellar career is over he'll be inducted to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

The Yankees were terrible back in June 1992 and I was having a bad time of it myself, having just turned 20 and being alone and so far away from home. Things turned out pretty well for me and the Yanks over the next two decades I would say.

No comments:

Post a Comment