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Book review: "The Captain" shows Jeter as golden child

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter Credit: right: Getty

The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter
By Ian O'Connor
$26, 416 pages
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

While sordid tales of steroid use and infidelity have often dwarfed on-field heroics in recent sports biographies, Ian O'Connor's exhaustive book, "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter," focuses on the 36-year-old's dedication to the diamond.

Jeter is depicted as a golden child who gave a floundering organization a new heartbeat during some dismal years. Playing shortstop for the Yankees, as he has since 1996, was a childhood dream for Jeter, who wore a Yankees pendant in high school and slept in pinstriped boxers.

"We're expecting big things from you," owner George Steinbrenner told Jeter the day they met. It was a rather high expectation from The Boss that "scared Jeter to death."

The biography exposes some of Jeter's frailties, such as his out-of-control emotions while struggling in the minors. During his first year, the homesick 18-year-old would cry himself to sleep at night, running up $400 monthly bills calling his family back in Kalamazoo, Mich.

His Yankees career - complete with five championships, millions of dollars and dalliances with some of the nation's most attractive women - had been largely drama-free until his "friend" Alex Rodriguez joined the Bombers' infield in 2004.

"Derek has the whole city to himself. Alex represented a threat to that," an unnamed Jeter teammate told O'Connor. Rodriguez is depicted as insecure and obsessed with Jeter. The "threat" has abated - even as Jeter's skills fade.

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