This story originally aired on Sep. 25, 2005.
At a time when the reputation of professional sports has been tarnished by stories of spoiled and troubled athletes, of steroids and bad behavior, we have a story about an athlete who sets the standard for excellence and sportsmanship, on and off the field. 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley profiles Derek Jeter.
Derek Jeter is the cool, confident captain of the New York Yankees, whose remarkable talent and All-American image place him in a league of his own.
At 32, Jeter has already led the Yankees to four World Series wins, and has guided them to the playoffs for each of the past ten years.
Can he do it again? With the All-Star game set for this week - signaling the mid-point of the season - the Yankees are well-positioned to make another bid for the title. As 60 Minutes first reported last September, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter believes that anything short of winning it all is unacceptable.
Jeter loves his job. "It's a blast!" he says. "When you win it's fun. When you lose, it's magnified."
Derek Jeter's uncanny ability to make the big play - especially when the game or the season is on the line – has defined his ten years with the Yankees.
He does it with his bat and his glove, catching the uncatchable, surmounting obstacles with his trademark combination of nonchalance and relentlessness. No play says more about Jeter than the now legendary diving catch he made last year in which he placed his body - not to mention his $20 million salary — at risk.
Recalling that wild dive into the stands, Jeter says, "You know, the thing is, in 2001, I fell in the stands in the same area, but it was in the photographers' pit, which is all cement, and it didn't feel too good. So, when I was catching that ball, I knew I was going to fall in the stands because I was too close, but I figured if I jump over the photographers' pit maybe I'll run into someone and feel a little bit better…" Unluckily for Jeter, no one was there to cushion his fall. "Fifty-seven thousand people and I picked the seat that no one was in," he says with a laugh. "So that didn't feel too good either."
Jeter emerged from the stands bloodied and beaten up. After a trip to the hospital, and seven stitches in his chin, he insisted on playing the following day, and he did.
He's had this passion for baseball since the age of six, when he told his parents that he would one day play shortstop for the New York Yankees: "I was born in New Jersey, grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan," he says. "And I'm going around telling everyone I'm gonna play for the New York Yankees. And I think a lot people, a lot of parents, maybe, would tell their kids, 'put some real thoughts in your head.'"