Don't be fooled. I know that this photo is dark, my son's face is gloomy and he looks completely unkempt. That is for good reason... this photo was taken just moments after he woke up this morning... yes, folks, he sleeps in his Derek Jeter jersey and his ball pants.
We live in Texas, in Astros country... and he could care less about being heckled for wearing the famous #2 jersey. He doesn't care. This young 4 year old boy dreams bigger than Texas, and his big dreams and ambitions have no limits. He reminds me of the real owner of this #2 jersey, an old friend of mine you might have heard of, Mr. Derek Jeter.
Recognize anyone in this picture? This is me in the middle, surrounded by my buddies from high school, my best friend Denise, Doug, and yep- Derek.
The story about my friendship with Derek is not the reason for my post. My post is about his passion for baseball, and his Yankee medallion that was a permanent fixture around his neck growing up.
You see, we grew up in Kalamazoo, MI. Played at Westwood Little League and eventually went to Kalamazoo Central High School, where we were good friends, did our share of flirting back and forth (Derek was the first boy who ever kissed me!) and hung around with the same group of friends. Derek could always be counted on to be in the stands at my volleyball games, probably more to see the girls in bunhuggers than to cheer on his friend, but I won't hold that against him! I always missed his baseball games because in the spring I was playing club volleyball and was never home in the evenings to make it to his games, but nevertheless, I was always a big fan.
I was never a big fan of Derek's because of his ability (which sounds strange, but I wasn't caught up in his excellent athletic abilities)... I was/and still am a great, big Derek fan because of his passion and his love of baseball, specifically New York Yankee baseball.
Although I knew Derek from Little League, we didn't become friends until the 9th grade. Having always been taller than the boys my age, I was delighted to start 9th grade and meet Derek who was one of the first boys that I didn't tower over! The skinny, 5'10 boy with the same hazel green eyes as me wore this enormous, gold New York Yankees medallion around his neck. You have to understand, this was 1988, gold was 'in', but such substantial gold on a tall and lanky boy from the suburbs wasn't typical by any means! His medallion always caught my attention and when I asked him why he was a Yankees fan, and not a Tigers fan- his answer was pure and simple, "I want to play for the Yankees".
Derek was always confident without being arrogant, aware of his strengths but never overbearing... he was modest about his abilities, while still certain that they would carry him to his goal... playing ball in the Bronx. I'm sure he had to deal with his share of hecklers, as there are always people ready to tell you why your dreams won't become realities... I know firsthand that there were people in our circle, people we called friends, that were forever trying to shatter the foundations of his dream... Derek did not drink, didn't try drugs, didn't stay out too late, didn't do anything that could potentially destroy his chances to achieve his dream.
Derek always impressed me that he knew what he wanted at such a young age, kept that reminder around his neck, didn't allow anyone any chance of squelching his dream, and he worked toward his goal every, single day... I cannot acknowledge Derek's mature attitude, drive, determination and confidence without mentioning his family. Derek's parents and his little sister were always championing his cause and they still do! I cannot stress the importance his family played on his development as a person and ultimately as an athlete. They did everything humanely possible to help him, which means that they weren't just in the stands at his games, but they were the voices of reason when he was on the phone too late at night and needed to do his homework; they laid ground rules at home about chores and responsibilities... they supported him and guided him, while putting a strong foundation underneath him that would last a lifetime.
One could always tell that Derek would achieve great things in his life. I never doubted that the medallion around his neck would take him exactly where he wanted to go. And it has...
A week before we graduated from high school, Derek was chosen in the 1st round, the 5th pick overall I think, drafted to the New York Yankees. If you are a fan of baseball, you know the rest of the story. He has made his mark on Major League Baseball and will forever be known as one of the greatest players and representatives of the game.
The confidence, the passion, the unusual athletic ability... I recognize it again in another young man that exudes so many of the same qualities I admire in my old friend. This time the young man is my son... as a parent, I believe it is my duty and responsibility to give this boy every possible opportunity to achieve his dreams. Who am I to tell him that he can't achieve the impossible? Who am I to cap his endless enthusiasm and obsession with baseball?
I've seen firsthand what can be accomplished when a boy with a dream is given wings to fly...
Here he is at 2 yrs old, note the diapers? Already playing catch-
Here he is at 3, hitting line drives from overhand pitches
is this whole story true? i am wondering this because i am a 15 year old girl from central Pennsylvania and my dream is to meet Derek Jeter. i was just looking through Google images of Derek Jeter, as i do randomly because i love him !! and i saw the picture of you and him with a couple of other friends. i want to meet Derek Jeter so badly that i even tried writing to Kim Jones (a reporter for the Yankees YES Network) telling her about my life and how Derek Jeter is my idol. after reading this i was hoping you could help me meet Derek.