Derek Jeter: America's First Real Sweetheart Since Shirley Temple

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Derek Jeter: America's First Real Sweetheart Since Shirley Temple
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

I opened Sports Illustrated last week and had hardly begun flipping through the pages, when a particular spread caught my eye.  Not surprising that looking back at me was the friendly face of New York’s Derek Jeter.  After all, the Yankees had just won the World Series and an expose on one of their most beloved players wouldn’t be at all far-fetched.

Imagine my shock then, when, on further inspection, I noticed, not a page number where I may find a thrilling tale of a boy who spent summers with his grandparents, falling in love with the Yankees, but a sporty slogan and an image of his cologne, Derek Jeter Driven Sport (exclusively for Avon).

Of course, there are some tiny images at the bottom of the page of the 14-year Yankee doing what we always expect him to do best: playing baseball.  But, the microscopic images are a mere footnote to the sale Derek Jeter was making (I even think he might’ve been wearing guy-liner).

Now, I can get over little blue-haired ladies selling a cologne to their little blue-haired friends as gifts for grandsons, nephews, and whatever.  I get the marketability.  The grannies will feel “hip” and “with it” for buying the household sports name—though, they may not know which sport or why they should care.  The boys-to-men who purchase it for themselves will do so believing Derek Jeter’s musk will bring them success, glory, money, and, above all, women. 

But, the very next day, the front page of The New York Post touted a story about the same Derek Jeter appearing in Will Ferrell’s next box office blow-out. 

Is there nothing this man cannot conquer?

Jeter may be the most successful man to flit through our lives since Hitler conquered Europe. 

Except, significantly less detrimental and dramatically more lovable.

In addition to the three aforementioned accomplishments, he has a string of gyms in NYC, $7 million from endorsements with at least 11 companies—including Nike, Gatorade, Visa, and Ford—his own Jumpman baseball shoe, and a successful charity organization to keep kids off drugs and alcohol.  He has appeared in such popular shows as Seinfeld, Saturday Night Live, and the Simpsons (I think that counts).

And, to top it off, nobody hates him. 

When the Yankees lose, there is no brouhaha from the faithful about Jeter not making the catch, or not hitting well enough.  When the Yankees win, opposing fans don’t curse Jeter for a well-played game.  (Both of those honors are left to the loved and loathed Alex Rodriguez.)

Even Mets and Red Sox fans think Jeter is a stand-up guy.

Truly, Jeter is living the American dream.  He’s a baseball legend playing for his favorite team, has a positive impact on youth, gets to be in the talkies (!),  and everyone is clamoring to be his best friend.

I’m probably just jealous.

But, hell.  Aren’t you?

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