"We communicate," says Dorothy Jeter. "Sometimes, you know, he'll just stick up his head and go like that," she says, glancing up. "It means he's going to try to hit a home run. I shouldn't give that away, should I?"
We asked Charles Jeter if his son reminds him of himself at shortstop. "Yeah, a little bit, you know," he says, adding with a laugh, "Doesn't have the defensive abilities I had, but...."
His son attributes his own competitive nature to his father. "It's his fault," he jokingly insists. "He used to beat me at everything we played. I remember I was going to afternoon kindergarten and we used to watch The Price Is Right. Now, I'm five years old. And he used to beat me at the Showcase Showdown and send me to school."
He claims his father enjoyed beating a five-year-old at a game. "It made him feel good," he says. "You know, he'd win and send me on my way!"
Charles Jeter responds that his game-playing had a purpose: "Just teach him to be competitive, and nobody's going to let you win anything. It's not going to be fair all the time."
And Derek got the message: "I think the lesson was, 'Things don't come easy. You're going to have to work at it.'"
And work at it he did. Every year from the time he was a kid until he graduated high school, Derek had to sign a contract drawn up by his father. He would be permitted to play baseball only if he complied with all 18 clauses, including "no arguing," "no alcohol and drugs," and "respect girls."
What happened if he violated one of the clauses in the contract? "I didn't," Jeter insists. "I was pretty good. I was always afraid of disappointing my parents."
So, who does he think was tougher to negotiate with when it came to a contract, his father or George Steinbrenner? "The Boss," says Jeter, "is definitely harder to deal with."
Yankee boss and owner George Steinbrenner chose Derek Jeter right out of high school as his number one draft pick in 1992, and paid him $800,000. As a lonesome 18-year-old kid who had never been away from home, Jeter didn't get off to a flying start. He made 56 errors in his first minor league season.
"Fifty-six," Jeter recalls. "I was actually at shortstop two weeks into the season saying - it's a true story - 'Maybe they won't hit me another ball the rest of the year.' Sure enough, they hit the next one to me and I missed it."
So, how did he get from there to here? "A lot of work," Jeter says. "I work extremely hard. I like to be involved. I like to be in the middle of things, and I'm not afraid to fail."
Yankee Manager Joe Torre and Derek Jeter started their careers on the team together in 1996, and he says Jeter "handles the stress of this game as well as anybody."
But Jeter still calls him Mr. Torre, out of respect for someone he considers almost a second father.
"I think he's shortened it to 'Mr. T' now. We're getting there," Torre says.