Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame speech is missing in action.
“They told me I had to get it in a month before (induction),” he said during a Zoom media conference Thursday, six days before his scheduled Cooperstown induction.
“I didn’t want anyone to see it before I delivered it. And I haven’t finished it yet.
“I’ve addressed crowds before – especially when we closed the old Yankee Stadium.But this speech will be different.”
Jeter, who came to Cooperstown in 2019 for the induction of long-time Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera, admitted that he has tried not to think about his own.
“I don’t want to jinx things,” said Jeter, who fell one vote shy of duplicating Rivera’s unprecedented unanimous vote. There are too many things happening in the world.
“I’m trying not to think about [my induction]. I look forward to getting there, seeing the museum, and spending time with the Hall of Famers. I don’t want to go in with any pre-conceived notions.”
Jeter, now the CEO of the Miami Marlins, played a record 20 years for the Yankees, his only major-league team, and earned five World Series rings.
“You’re judged by winning,” he said, “especially in New York. That’s what makes Old Timers Day so important. Yogi Berra used to come into the locker room and remind me how many rings he had (10).
“I like to compete. I became vocal about it the last 10 years or so of my career. That’s why I wanted to become part of an ownership group.”
Jeter said he is trying to instill the winning tradition he experienced in New York with his young Marlins team.
“What people need to understand is the most important thing is to win,” he said. “Winning is something you have to learn to do. Our ultimate goal is to win and we try to teach everyone here to win.”
There won’t be any question about the logo that appears on Jeter’s bronze Hall of Fame plaque.
“I want to be remembered as a Yankee,” he said in response to a question about his legacy. “When you’re playing, it’s much more than what you do on the field that counts.”
His Derek Jeter Foundation has given back to the local communities in Michigan, where Jeter spent his youth, as well as New York and Miami. The upcoming Yankees-Mets game on September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has also caught his attention.
“Sports has a great way of bringing communities together,” he said. “When we first got back to playing after 9/11, we were thinking ‘Does this really matter?’
“We felt we were playing for all of New York. Before the first game of the World Series at Yankee Stadium, that was the loudest pre-game roar I ever heard in New York. We didn’t win but we gave New Yorkers something to cheer for.”
Jeter gave them plenty. Handed the title of captain by then-manager Joe Torre, he ran with it.
“It’s a title not thrown around too lightly in that organization,” said Jeter. “Joe said he didn’t want me to change anything – just to be myself.”
Aware that the Yankees are a global brand, Jeter has visited Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, and other places in Latin America.
“There’s a big Yankee following in all those countries,” he said. Many of those fans have fond memories of Jeter.
“I tried to play the game right and played the game hard,” he said. Doing that makes you feel good.”
Later in his career, as age and injuries took their toll, whispers started about Jeter’s declining defense.
“You slow down at the end of your career, but when a play needed to be made, I felt I was going to make it,” said the long-time shortstop, who never played any other position. “And my teammates had confidence in me too.”
Jeter broke in at age 20 and retired at age 40. But he still thinks young.
“There needs to be more action in the game,” he told the Zoom audience. “Fans want to see things happen. I like the automatic runner on second base in extra innings, for example. Every sport has to change and evolve over time.”