A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 54 Derek Jeter (Number 5 Shortstop)

I kind of cheated to get Derek Jeter into the inner circle. I added bonus points for catchers and pitchers. At one time I was going to add bonus points for second basemen and shortstops. I changed my formula enough I decided I didn’t have to add bonus points for the two positions. However, I analyzed them separately as playing shortstop is a key position in the field. One thing I notice was there were only two shortstops who scored 700 points and none between 750 and 800. I figured because shortstops who were excellent in the field and very good at the plate could compete at the higher levels, but if they didn’t have both of those it left a whole. I decided to add a percentage. I didn’t want to do too much. I saw Jeter was just below 1,000 points. So, I figured adding 1.8 percent would put him over 1,000, so that is what I did.

Sports Illustrated had an article which they proclaimed Derek Jeter the greatest team player of all time. This was after he made the play coming from the shortstop position taking an offline throw flipping it to the catcher and throwing Jeremy Giambi at the plate. It was a heck of a play and became really important as the Yankees won the game 1-0. They said he beat out Bill Russell who was a center for the Boston Celtics when they won 11 championships in 13 years with him playing great defense and grabbing rebounds for his team. I thought they got it right, Russell was the greatest team player of all time. I still hadn’t figured out why Jeter was better than Russell or anyone else for that matter. They talked about him always making plays at the right time. They also said further proof was he was Mr. November after hitting a game winning home run in the first World Series game played in November. The game started on Halloween night, but lasted until after midnight because it went into extra innings. So, early early on the morning of November 1st, 2001 Jeter hit the game winning home run. They didn’t mention was that it was the only RBI in the series as he only hit .148.

I decided to do further research on both of these players. I decided to read “The Yankee Years” by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci. Joe Torre managed Jeter for 12 of his 20 years. He managed him during his prime years and 4 of his 5 World Series wins. Torre basically said that Jeter was a hard worker, worked on improving his game, had a good attitude and got along with everyone. Very good that is the kind of guy you want on your team. They said Alex Rodriguez was too intense and was always down on himself in comparison. However, there was no mention of Jeter ever lifting up his teammates or giving a passionate speech.

Bill Russell on the other hand. The game he played helped the other players on the court, but that is not why I picked him. It was three stories I read about him.

  • Russell was named player coach of the Celtics after the team won 9 titles in 10 years and Red Auerbach retired. Philadelphia with Wilt Chamberlin put it all together and won the title the next year. Coming into camp the next year Russell said he needed help. He said he couldn’t keep track of the fouls and timeouts and keep his concentration of playing. So, he assigned one player to keep track of timeouts and another fouls, and probably someone else on whatever everyone needed to remember. Now days there is 4 or 5 coaches for an NBA team. The Celtics went on the floor with the 11 players, one who happened to be coach. Yet they won the NBA title Russel’s final two years. There was no one on the bench to remind them of game plans, except other player, no one to give personnel coaching on the sideline if a guy was having trouble, except other players. Yet they won.
  • They were playing the Lakers on the road in game 7 of the NBA finals. The Lakers were heavily favorite as they had West and Baylor, then added Chamberlain in the middle of the season. The Celtics were old. It was an upset they made it to the final and made it to a game 7. The Lakers owner in honor of the expected victory put balloons up in the roof of the building to release after the Laker’s won the game. Russell dragged his team out onto the court, told them to look up and said, “Those balloons ain’t coming down.” That was it. The Celtics got off to a great start and held onto a 2-point victory.
  • His teammates said before big games Russell got nerves and always threw up. They mentioned how this made them feel better as it was a sign, he was ready to play. To me that clutches it for the greatest teammate ever, I want the guy who throws up.
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Author: Douglas Byzewski

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