Captain Cooperstown: Derek Jeter isn’t done with baseball yet

New York Yankees legend and Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter has spent his retirement wearing a new hat: owner of the Miami Marlins.

Josh Benjamin

Josh Benjamin

His final game was almost exactly seven years ago, but baseball found a way to survive without Derek Jeter.

Even without his signature throw from the hole or inside-out swing, the game has played on. Even better, young hotshot shortstops like Francisco Lindor and Fernando Tatis Jr. have picked up Jeter’s mantel and done a good job filling his shoes.

Derek Jeter HOF Series

Derek Jeter HOF Series

And yet, Derek Jeter’s legacy lives on. He isn’t around much in the public eye anymore, but no fan has forgotten him. Jeter returned to the Bronx in 2017 for his signature number 2 to be retired, and the crowd was just as enthusiastic as his last home game.

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Now, Jeter isn’t as focused on his playing days. Sure, they were a great 20 years, but he’s no longer Derek Jeter the player.

Today, he’s Derek Jeter the owner. As in, he’s the CEO and part-owner of the Miami Marlins after he and partner Bruce Sherman bought the team for $1.2 billion four years ago.

It’s a role reversal rarely ever seen in professional sports but knowing Jeter, his drive to win will fuel his success in the front office.

Derek Jeter is navigating new waters

It isn’t easy making the switch from team player to team executive, let alone team owner. He’s not even the majority owner but for all intents and purposes, Derek Jeter is the main face of the Miami Marlins.

Naturally, it hasn’t been the smoothest of transitions. Not only did Jeter inherit a mess of a team from former owner Jeffrey Loria, but he got a harsh lesson in PR just a few years into the job. The Marlins had a significant COVID-19 outbreak in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and the team’s initial statement reeked of glib unaccountability.

The good news is shortly afterward, the natural leader in Derek Jeter was reborn and he did a better job addressing the situation. He admitted his players’ behavior was reckless. The owner’s hat wasn’t a perfect fit, and still might not be today. But still, the former Yankee captain is slowly but surely getting better.

Derek Jeter will succeed as an MLB owner

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Such is the life of a team owner, a far cry from that of a beloved player. Mistakes can’t just be washed away with charm and a $189 million smile anymore. Instead, Derek Jeter is the one making hard decisions that affect not only himself, but an entire organization. If something goes wrong, he has to own his mistakes differently than he would as a star athlete.

In ownership, the margin for error is just that small.

And a few years in, Jeter continues to do things his way. As a player, he favored an unconventional swing that sacrificed power for effectiveness. As an owner, he shattered a glass ceiling when he hired Kim Ng to be Miami’s general manager. The man has bet on himself his whole life and has no reason to stop now.

Don’t let the Marlins’ place in the standings fool you. Derek Jeter, a man who spent his whole professional playing career winning, is determined to make his new team a winner. He’s so focused that, as he says in the clip above, he barely pays attention to how his old team is playing. He even brought in a familiar face in longtime teammate and best friend Jorge Posada as a special advisor, bringing the tenets of the Jeter Dynasty and the Core Four’s greatness to south Florida.

A Hall of Fame legacy

Want to know why? Because all these years later, Jeter still values the fans’ opinions. Even at his retirement ceremony in 2017, months before the Marlins’ sale was final, he was selfless as ever and made sure to mention just how much we drive him.

“I want to thank you guys for pushing me,” he said. “For challenging me. For making me accountable.”

All this to say that on Wednesday, we will honor Derek Jeter the player.

Some years down the road, we may head to Cooperstown again to honor Derek Jeter the owner.

Congratulations, Captain. You deserve this.

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