Jeter's latest reward: Sportsman of the Year
As if his World Series triumph, stunning girlfriend and stratospheric bank account weren't sweet enough, Yankees captain Derek Jeter was given one more reason to smile Monday: He was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
The first member of the storied Bronx Bombers to win the honor, Jeter, 35, called it “quite an honor.”
“I only wanted to play for the Yankees, my whole life,” he said in an interview with the magazine, which hits stands Wednesday. “This has always been the dream of mine: to play shortstop for the New York Yankees. And I get a chance to do it.”
While Jeter had a great year on the field - he batted .334 and broke Lou Gehrig's mark for most career hits by a Yankee - he got the nod as much for his off-field charity work. The Turn 2 Foundation, which he started during his rookie year in 1996, provides programs for children to encourage healthy lifestyles.
“Derek Jeter has always presented himself with class,” said Terry McDonell, Sports Illustrated Group Editor. “He does numerous good works for the community with his Turn 2 Foundation, which is one of the most efficient, effective foundations of its kind.”
Emma Span, who writes for Yankees fan site Bugs and Cranks, said she was surprised when she first heard about the selection.
“He's had lots of good years before,” she said. “It seems like it was more of a lifetime achievement award.”
Jeter was only the third New York baseball player to capture the honor, after Johnny Podres of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955 and Tom Seaver of the Mets in 1969. Sports Illustrated started the tradition in 1954, giving the cover to British track and field star Roger Bannister.
In the magazine interview, Jeter said his dream after retirement is to own a team and would not want to manager or coach.
“I would like to be able to call the shots, be able to make some decisions,” he said.
John Fuller, who runs a sports marketing firm, said it was yet another accolade for a player who keeps piling them up.
“What more can he do?” Fuller said. “Get married - that's about it.”