Derek Jeter’s selection to the Hall of Fame Jan. 21 gave Mount St. Michael Academy senior Alex Santos the opportunity to remember his meeting with the New York Yankees legend last summer.
The 17-year-old pitcher was one of 80 high school juniors in the Class of 2020 Major League Baseball draft eligible players invited to the inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline League at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Jeter, now CEO of the Miami Marlins, visited the camp for a day and sat in the dugout to talk with some of the players, including Santos.
“It was great,” Santos told CNY about speaking with Jeter. “We were having a great conversation with him. We talked about baseball and things we could work on. He was giving us tips. He’s a great guy and just loves the game.
“Watching him throughout the years, everybody says you want to be like Derek Jeter. It’s true. He was a great player and leader.”
Jeter’s 3,465 hits rank sixth on the all-time list, and tops among Yankees players.
Jeter also ranks first on the all-time Yankee list in games played, 2,747; doubles, 544; and stolen bases, 358. He’s second in runs scored, 1,923; fourth in walks, 1,082; sixth in RBIs, 1,311; and eighth in career batting average, .310.
The 14-time American League All Star was named Yankees’ captain in 2003 and was a member of five world championship teams in his team-record 20 seasons as a Yankee.
He was selected on 396 of 397 Hall of Fame ballots from the Baseball Writers Association of America, which also selected Larry Walker to be inducted with Jeter this July in Cooperstown.
“He was a great player and legend without being a Hall of Famer. This stamps it,” said Santos, who signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Maryland.
CYO has baseball and softball programs on Staten Island as well as a softball program in the Bronx.
“To have a role model for our CYO community and beyond is tremendous,” said Seth Peloso, director of CYO New York. “Certainly in youth sports, we need role models to look up to and he fills that role.
“I wouldn’t pinpoint one specific moment, just the way he carried himself day in and day out. I’ve been involved with athletics for the last 20 years and being around sports and people, you start looking at people for what they do on and off the field. You look at leadership style and stuff you hear and witnessed off the field. He’s conducted himself as a constant professional.”
Michael Neely, director of Staten Island CYO and a Yankee fan, added, “He certainly sets a great example for kids and probably set the standard for kids. After being elected to the Hall of Fame, he thanked his parents. There’s a guy who gets it. I believe a guy like Derek Jeter every kid should aspire to be like him. His words and actions go a long way.”
Bob Mulligan is entering his 19th season as varsity baseball coach at Msgr. Farrell High School on Staten Island. He grew up a Yankees fan, but now follows the New York Mets after throwing batting practice for the team from 2002 to 2017.
“As a high school coach preaching dedication, hustle, preparation, being a great teammate and leadership, you can say Derek Jeter was all that and more,” Mulligan said. “He has great respect for the game and is truly a winner.”
Mulligan said he’s sure “I have used his name to my kids at Farrell” as an example to follow, “and more than ever I will continue to do so.”
Iona College baseball coach Paul Panik, 31, grew up rooting for Jeter and the Yankees in Hopewell Junction where he played at John Jay High School before competing for Jesuit-run Canisius College in Buffalo.
“He’s a true champion and a bonafide Hall of Famer,” said Panik, who is entering his second season as head coach at Iona. “He’s the type of guy you want to see (in the Hall of Fame). You never knew if he was 0 for 5, 5 for 5 or in a 0 for 30 slump. He always played the same way.
“He was an example to watch compete. He always did things the right way. It was easy to use him as an example. Coaches always used him as an example. He made the game fun to watch and easy to learn.”
Jeter and Walker will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Marvin Miller, a longtime head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and former player Ted Simmons in a ceremony at Cooperstown July 26.
“I’m happy for Jeter, and I’m glad he made it on the first ballot. It cements his legacy,” said Panik.