Two big sports stars are turning a new page in their retirements. New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter is teaming up with the Atlanta Falcons’ Tim Green to tackle the world of children’s books.
Published by the Jeter Children’s imprint of Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS, “Baseball Genius” tells the story of Jalen, an average kid with an above-average talent.
Jalen, named after Jeter’s 5-year-old nephew, also encounters bullying and taunting as a biracial child.
“What we’ve tried to do is incorporate the lessons I’ve learned through my parents, obviously my sister and I, and what we teach our kids through our foundation,” Jeter said. “We try to do that with diverse characters and interesting stories. These are issues that kids are facing nowadays. It’s front and center. You really can’t shy away from it.”
“The thing about books is when kids read, they get smarter,” Green said. “They perform better in school. But most importantly, when kids read, they get a little kinder because they put themselves in someone else’s shoes. So that’s why I think it’s important that our characters are a little different.”
Green said the story is about perseverance, kindness, loyalty and friendship.
“So there’s all these kinds of visceral things in the story that kids are going to — you know, it’s going to sink in,” Green said.
But that only works if the book succeeds at its goal of entertaining young readers.
“So short chapters, lots of action. And then we take them into the world of the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball,” Green said. “Derek’s insight into that — we really for readers, we pulled back the curtain on that experience.”
They’re also sending a message with a female character who wants to be either president, a TV show host or a sports agent.
“In all of these books I’ve written in the middle grade genre — this is the 19th and Derek and I have more to do — but I always have a good strong girl character. Not only for girl readers but for boy readers so that they see, you know, what is Derek’s perception and my perception of a girl, and it’s strong,” Green said.