The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter

      Ian O'Connor

The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter

“Derek Jeter is undoubtedly the most talked about, argued about, cheered, booed and ultimately respected baseball player of his generation. And as public a figure as he has been, he is in many ways the least known. That changes now as Ian O’Connor, one of the best sports writers anywhere, goes deep and does what no one has quite been able to do: Tell us a bit about who Derek Jeter really is.”—Joe Posnanski, author of The Machine

“Deftly told.”—Washington Post

In The Captain, Ian O’Connor draws on unique access to Derek Jeter and more than 200 new interviews to reveal how a biracial kid from Michigan became New York’s most beloved sports figure and the face of the steroid-free athlete. O’Connor takes us behind the scenes of a legendary baseball life, from Jeter’s early struggles in the minor leagues, when homesickness and errors threatened a stillborn career, to the heady days of Yankee superiority and nightlife, to the battles with former best friend A-Rod. All along the way, Jeter has made his Hall-of-Fame destiny look easy. But behind that leadership and hero’s grace there are hidden struggles and complexities that have never been explored, until now. Review

Every spring, Little Leaguers across the country mimic his stance and squabble over the right to wear his number, 2, the next number to be retired by the world’s most famous ball team. Derek Jeter is their hero. He walks in the footsteps of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle, and someday his shadow will loom just as large. Yet he has never been the best player in baseball. In fact, he hasn’t always been the best player on his team. But his intangible grace and Jordanesque ability to play big in the biggest of postseason moments make him the face of the modern Yankee dynasty, and of America’s game.

In The Captain, best-selling author Ian O’Connor draws on extensive reporting and unique
access to Jeter that has spanned some fifteen years to  reveal how a biracial kid from Michigan became New York’s most beloved sports figure and the enduring symbol of the steroid-free athlete. O’Connor takes us behind the scenes of a legendary baseball life and career, from Jeter’s early struggles in the minor leagues, when homesickness and errors in the field threatened a stillborn career, to his heady days as a Yankee superstar and prince of the city who squired some of the world’s most beautiful women, to his tense battles with former best friend A-Rod. We also witness Jeter struggling to come to terms with his declining skills and the declining favor of the only organization he ever wanted to play for, leading to a contentious contract negotiation with the Yankees that left people wondering if Jeter might end his career in a uniform without pinstripes.

Derek Jeter’s march toward the Hall of Fame has been dignified and certain, but behind that leadership and hero’s grace there are hidden struggles and complexities that have never been explored, until now. As Jeter closes in on 3,000 hits, a number no Yankee has ever touched, The Captain offers an incisive, exhilarating, and revealing new look at one of the game’s greatest players in the gloaming of his career.

Photos of Derek Jeter from *The Captain*
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

Derek Jeter and teammates wave their caps to the crowd after Jeter delivered his postgame speech on Yankee Stadium’s final night.

The captain salutes the fans after breaking Lou Gehrig’s franchise record for hits.

The shortstop’s signature play – the jump throw from the hole – from start to finish.

Photos courtesy John Angelillo/UPI

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author Ian O'Connor

Q: Why did you feel compelled to write a biography of Derek Jeter?

A: As I say in the introduction to The Captain, the answer is found in my son’s closet, a mini-warehouse of youth baseball jerseys graced by the frayed number 2. With Derek Jeter nearing the end of his iconic career, not to mention a milestone (3,000 hits) no New York Yankee has reached, I thought it was the right time to do a head-to-toe examination of Jeter’s mass appeal. He is the DiMaggio of his time, a beloved but distant figure. My goal was to humanize Jeter. I wanted to paint a public portrait of a private man while celebrating his dignified approach and explaining why his number 2 is number 1 in the closets of kids everywhere.

Q:How did you gather all the material in The Captain?

A: I’ve covered Jeter’s entire career as a newspaper and Internet columnist in the New York market, so I had a strong base of firsthand observations and knowledge and one-on-one and group interviews with Jeter to work with. I also conducted more than 200 interviews exclusively for this book, including conversations with Jeter and past and present teammates, coaches, friends, opponents, teachers, scouts, executives, admirers, and detractors. (I define his detractors as admirers willing to discuss the shortstop’s human flaws.)

Q: What is your favorite anecdote in the book from Jeter’s early years as a Yankee?

A: One of my favorites involves the period before Derek was drafted. As a child he started telling his parents and others he would someday play shortstop for the New York Yankees, and as a teenager he predicted to some that he would marry Mariah Carey (well, he almost went 2 for 2). But the surreal twists and turns of the draft of ’92, when Jeter dropped into the Yankees’ lap as the sixth overall pick, lends credence to the notion he was meant to be a Yank. Houston rejected the advice of its lead Jeter scout, a former Hall of Fame pitcher for Detroit named Hal Newhouser, who resigned because the Astros didn’t pick Derek at number 1 (they took college star Phil Nevin instead). Cincinnati scouting director Julian Mock rejected the advice of his own people and decided in the middle of a draft-day jog to select a college outfielder from central Florida (Chad Mottola) instead of the high school shortstop from Kalamazoo (Jeter) at number 5. To this day, Derek swears he was so convinced he was going in the top five of the draft, he didn’t even know that his dream team, the Yankees, were picking sixth. He knows now... I also enjoyed discovering how Cal Ripken Jr.’s decision to shake a young boy’s hand in 1993 ultimately put twelve-year-old Jeffrey Maier in the Yankee Stadium stands in 1996, when Maier deflected Derek Jeter’s home-run ball into American League Championship Series lore and helped end Baltimore’s season and Ripken’s indelible reign at short.

Q: Jeter is often portrayed as the perfect athlete. Is he perfect?

A: Jeter is about as close to perfect as a superstar athlete can get, but no, he is not an infallible player or person. As a product of parents who raised him on the strict terms of behavioral contracts he was compelled to sign, Jeter never put himself or his team in an embarrassing position. But he’s been overly sensitive to criticism, he’s terrible at forgiving and forgetting those he believes have slighted him, and at times he could have been a better captain to Alex Rodriguez, who craved Jeter’s approval in his early seasons as a Yankee. Jeter didn’t give it.


"Jeter is the prince, the good son, the tireless worker. O’Connor uses baseball lore and the tropes and rhythms of folktales to limn Jeter’s family life and early career...essential for Yankees fans." — Booklist

"O’Connor peppers the bio with enough hidden gems about the notoriously private ballplayer to make this the most thorough and intriguing work on Jeter so far. And O’Connor’s ability to reconcile Jeter the man with Jeter the ballplayer means that even Red Sox fans may enjoy this bio." — Publishers Weekly

"The most complete account yet of this signal player's life and career . . . Insightful about Jeter's minor league days and touching on his personal life, The Captain tantalizes with predictions about possible position changes and the length of Jeter's career. An excellent selection for those interested in baseball generally and in pinstripes particularly." — Library Journal

"Long after Derek Jeter is inducted into the Hall of Fame, Ian O’Connor’s work will be viewed as the definitive biography of the captain. Jeter has always managed to keep it simple, but as O’Connor shows, the shortstop is a complicated superstar." — Buster Olney, author of How Lucky You Can Be and The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty

"Ian O’Connor is an ideal biographer for Derek Jeter. Ian is the same kind of thorough pro." — Tom Callahan, best-selling author of Johnny U

"Derek Jeter is undoubtedly the most talked about, argued about, cheered, booed and ultimately respected baseball player of his generation. And as public a figure as he has been, he is in many ways the least known. That changes now as Ian O’Connor, one of the best sportswriters anywhere, goes deep and does what no one has quite been able to do: tell us a bit about who Derek Jeter really is." — Joe Posnanski, author of The Machine

"For years we’ve been telling young ballplayers to play and behave like Derek Jeter. Now we can tell them to read Ian O’Connor's The Captain. Finally, we have an inside look at the worthy successor to Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle." — Dan Shaughnessy, author of Fenway and Senior Year

Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547747608
  • ASIN: B00AK2ZFU8
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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“ Derek Jeter is One of the Greatest Baseball players ever and he is to me the Greatest New York Yankee Player ever in my lifetime i can say. ” A customer  |  11 reviewers made a similar statement

“ Very detailed and informative book. ” Leonard W. Hooper  |  10 reviewers made a similar statement

“ This was a great gift for my cousin. ” RP  |  4 reviewers made a similar statement

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful

4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of the Modern Day DiMaggio May 28, 2011

By Brian Brockmeyer VINE™ VOICE


Ian O'Connor's THE CAPTAIN: THE JOURNEY OF DEREK JETER is a breezy and enjoyable biography of the iconic Yankee shortstop. O'Connor paints an overwhelmingly admiring portrait that nonetheless manages to remain objective. Through it all Jeter comes across as a prodigious talent who epitomizes class, grace, wholesomeness, dignity, dedication, and sportsmanship. If he sounds perfect, it's because he nearly is: as several different interviewees put it, he's the kind of person one would hope their son to be or their daughter to marry. There is not a more positive role model in all of sports.

Yet Jeter is still only human and O'Connor is perceptive of his subject's faults. In particular, Jeter is portrayed as being both overly sensitive to criticism and ruthlessly unforgiving towards those he perceives as having wronged him or violated his friendship. The latter trait is especially highlighted in the second-half of the book, which is dominated by the complex relationship between Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. O'Connor, not unfairly, concludes Jeter failed A-Rod in his role as Yankee captain by holding a grudge over passive-aggressive comments Rodriguez had made years earlier and not extending to the third baseman during his early struggles in New York the same public support Jeter had given Chuck Knoblauch and Jason Giambi during their adversities. The chinks-in-the-armor are relatively trifling and stand out only because they contrast, however slightly, with what O'Connor astutely describes as Jeter's almost unfailing instinct to do "the right thing at the right time." Ultimately, it's to Jeter's credit that he was able to overcome his twin shortcomings by improving both his fielding range and his relationship with Rodriguez, putting the Yankees on the path to their 27th World Series victory in 2009.

It's been said that Yankee superstars come in two general molds: those of the flamboyant Ruth-Mantle-Jackson lineage, and those of the stately Gehrig-DiMaggio-Mattingly lineage. A-Rod is of the first; Jeter, very much of the second. From their elegant playing styles and dogged work ethics to their guarded public personas and glamourous romantic lives, the similarities between Jeter and DiMaggio are uncanny. Like Jeter, DiMaggio was also known to summarily cut off anyone who transgressed him even once and was fiercely protective of his personal life. Fittingly, when the old Yankee Stadium closed in 2008, it was the sign in the clubhouse tunnel bearing DiMaggio's famous "I'd like to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee" quote that Jeter took home as a souvenir. The Jeter-DiMaggio comparison is a compelling one that's made several times within the book, including in a quote from Phil Rizzuto, though one significant difference between the Yankee legends is dutifully noted by O'Connor: Jeter is accessible and unfailingly polite, whereas DiMaggio was notoriously rude.

O'Connor's writing on the whole is smooth, though at times it can be too casual, and he makes one glaring factual error in placing David Justice on the '99 Yankees (Justice was not acquired from Cleveland until mid-way through 2000). While many of the stories will be familiar to Yankee diehards (particularly those who have read Buster Olney's The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty New Edition: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness), there is enough interesting new material and the book is current enough (up through the 2010-11 off-season, including the surprisingly contentious contract negotiations between Jeter and the Yankees) to stand in its own right as a worthwhile read.

Enthusiastically recommended for Jeter, Yankee, and baseball fans alike.


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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars Oh Captain, My Captain, Now I Know You Somewhat! April 15, 2011

By Michael A. Newman VINE™ VOICE

Format:Hardcover|Amazon Vine™ Review (What's this?)

When I first picked up this book I thought I would just get a rehash of the things written by others and a series of "cliche-type" quotes that Derek has always given. Mr. O'Connor has done some impressive research to peel back the onion so to speak on Derek Jeter's inner person. He also tells the tale in a very compelling fashion that made this book difficult to put down.

He goes back to the story of Jeter's grandparents and the work ethic that was always brought about by Jeter's grandfather. This ethic was later drilled into Derek by his grandfather. His mother Dot was also heavily influenced by her father and married Derek's father at a time when interracial marriages were still considered "shocking." Derek also bonded closely with his sister and even defended her honor a few times.

Derek was from the start always sure that he would be a Yankee shortstop and marry Mariah Carey. He lived his entire childhood and teenage years with this dream. Each time something would go wrong with him it seemed like the perfect coach or mentor came along to right him. He was the top high school player and the year the Yankees drafted him they had the six pick. O'Connor unfolds how the draft went down in such a way that even though the reader knows where Derek wound up, you still have your doubts as the suspense of the picking builds.

Even when Derek finally decides on the Yankees, the author makes you so sure that he will be Bill Freehan's shortstop at the University of Michigan.

Very much like Mickey Mantle, Derek had an incredibly rough first year in the minors and would run up big phone bills calling home crying, doubting his decision to bypass college and feeling like a total washout. Again it was through mentors (like Don Mattingly and others) that he was able to become a good fielder and turn his minor league career around.

Several times he, as well as another struggler in the early days of the minor leagues, Mariano Rivera came close to being traded a few times. In his rookie year, Clyde King wanted him sent back to minors but it was the fatherly Joe Torre as well as a few others that helped him.

O'Connor is an excellent writer and I will try to look for more of his works. I now know that Mr. Cool of the Yankees was many times far from cool and as human as the rest of us especially early in his baseball career.


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful

3.0 out of 5 stars A book only for those that don't know Derek Jeter November 17, 2011

By R. Chisholm

Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase

This book is great for those who don't know Derek Jeter or for those who live outside the New York City area and don't have regular access to Yankees broadcasts, news and media. Its a detailed look into the franchise's most celebrated Captain - his early life, his rise within the Yankees organization, his performance on and off the field and how Jeter became one of the best infielders in baseball history.

Other than that, this book is really a collective of stories, anecdotes, quotes and news bites that have been gathered over the years. Therefore, I would not recommend this book to anyone who has followed Jeter closely over the years because you've heard it and seen it all before and you've already experienced it. There is nothing new in this read; so much of the info in the book is just copied from other sources. A perfect example are things quoted from TV episodes (i.e. YES Network's Yankeeography and CenterStage; ESPN's SportsCentury). Why bother reading through 300 pages when anyone could just watch the show??? Also, this book is a real "twinkie munch" - a NY sports journalism term when reporters put an athlete on a pedestal and don't bother with any hard questions. Its true that Jeter is known as a great player and person but the read become a complete bore when O'Connor basically becomes Jeter's one-man publicity team.

Some other issues that I had with this book are:
(1)What's up with the 20 page dedication to Jeffrey Maier?? If you don't remember, Maier is the 12 year old kid who caught Jeter's deep fly ball in the stands that the umpires ruled a home run to the dismay of the Baltimore Orioles. This part of the book was completely unnecessary.

(2)The Alex Rodriguez bashing. Its true that the A-Rod/Jeter relationship was not well at the beginning of their stint together with the Yankees, but the negative spin against Rodriguez makes the author, Ian O'Connor, look ridiculously biased.

(3)The timing of this book. I truly believe this piece of writing should've waiting another couple of years because Jeter's career, and subsequent storyline, is far from over. This book only covers everything until the end of 2010. Well what happens in 2011? Jeter makes the 3000 hit mark, one of the most coveted accomplishments in major league baseball. The book is already outdated and incomplete.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic read

This book was a very fun read and informs the reader of the internal life of Derek Jeter and his impact on the New York Yankees and the city of New York. Read more

Published 2 months ago by David M. Tanner

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book

Great Book easy read, hate the yankees but like Jeter and after reading the book like him even more would recommend to any sports fan.

Published 2 months ago by Ricardo Gonzalez

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Biography of Jeter

I do not think that Derek Jeter could have told his life story better himself. This is a great read about the Yankees' captain. Read more

Published 2 months ago by mm

5.0 out of 5 stars Gift

This was a great gift for my cousin. He is a huge Derek Jeter fan. This arrived on time and in great condition.

Published 3 months ago by RP

3.0 out of 5 stars Captain

I felt the book spent too much time telling about the soap opera stuff surrounding Jeter: women he dated, conflicts between Jeter and other players, contract negotiations. Read more

Published 3 months ago by Jim Clanin

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book on a Great Competitor

Ian O'Connor's "The Captain" provides an excellent review of Derek Jeter's career. In the process of following Jeter's baseball history he uncovers interesting aspects of Jeter's... Read more

Published 4 months ago by Cole Brown

5.0 out of 5 stars How can you not love him

Good read about a remarkable Yankee. From a young age Jeter has been way more mature than his age. I think that speaks volumes about his parents. Read more

Published 5 months ago by Steve Tuttle

5.0 out of 5 stars Must read!!

Great book that provides insight into a Yankee legend. Overall a must read for any baseball fan that truly enjoys the national pastime.

Published 5 months ago by Danny

5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read For Any Jeter Fan

From birth to his reign as the beloved Captain, this book takes you behind the scenes for every moment that brought him to Yankee Stadium. Read more

Published 6 months ago by Heather Vinson

5.0 out of 5 stars Baseball as it was meant to be

I've always respected the power of the Yankees, but having grown up as a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, hated their domination of my team. Read more

Published 6 months ago by J. Cadle

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      Ian O'Connor


The definitive biography of the NFL's most enigmatic, controversial, and yet successful coach
Bill Belichick is perhaps the most fascinating figure in the NFL—the infamously dour face of one of the winningest franchises in sports. As head coach of the New England Patriots, he's led the team to five Super Bowl championship trophies. In this revelatory and robust biography, readers will come to understand and see Belichick's full life in football, from watching college games as a kid with his father, a Naval Academy scout, to orchestrating two Super Bowl–winning game plans as defensive coordinator for the Giants, to his dramatic leap to New England, where he has made history.
Award-winning columnist and New York Times best-selling author Ian O'Connor delves into the mind of the man who has earned a place among coaching legends like Lombardi, Halas, and Paul Brown, presenting sides of Belichick that have been previously unexplored. O'Connor discovers...

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