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September 20, 2009

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EXCERPT | May 6,1996

Rookie Promise

Lou Gehrig? Whenthis story came out, Derek Jeter had fewer hits as a Yankee than Dion James

A month after the21-year-old shortstop hit an Opening Day home run, Gerry Callahan deliveredSI's first story on him.

The Yankees arehoping Jeter is a young Ripken or Larkin, an all-around shortstop with asizzling bat to match his solid glove. Jeter, who's batting .265, is long andlean (6'3", 185 pounds), with the body of an NBA two guard and the rawathletic ability to play any position. He is friendly and outgoing, and he onlyducks a question when he is asked to praise himself. He was proud to get number2 because all the other single digits (except 6, which belongs to manager JoeTorre) were worn by Yankees legends and have been retired. Jeter can match thenames of those legends to their retired numbers, a feat for a rookie in thisday and age.

Jeter is theall-American boy, born in New Jersey and raised in Kalamazoo, Mich. As a kid hewould return to Jersey in the summers to visit relatives. He wore Yankees capsand T-shirts and idolized Dave Winfield. But what if he starts booting ballsall over the Stadium? How long before Torre is ordered by George Steinbrennerto bench the kid or even send him down? When Jeter struggled in springtraining, Steinbrenner said, "We'll be patient with him. Every year youlook for Derek Jeter to stumble, and he just doesn't. He dominated rookie ball,so we moved him to [Class] A, and he dominated there. We sent him to Double A,and he dominated there. At [Triple A] Columbus it was the same thing. He couldbe one of the special ones."

In winning the ALRookie of the Year award Jeter had 183 hits; last Friday he stroked his 2,722ndhit as a Yankee, a team record.

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PHOTOPhotograph by CHUCK SOLOMONWINNING COLORS After four years in the Yankees' minor league system, Jeter broke into the bigs and earned the first of his four World Series titles. PHOTOBILL SMITH (JORDAN) PHOTOTONY TRIOLO (MARTIN AND JACKSON) PHOTONEIL LEIFER (BUTKUS) PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (BARKLEY) TWO PHOTOSERICK W. RASCO (ICHIRO, OUDIN) PHOTOAL TIELEMANS (BREES) PHOTOSIMON BRUTY (CLIJSTERS) PHOTOBILL FRAKES (TEBOW) PHOTOSCOTT A. MILLER/US PRESSWIRE (JONES) PHOTO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)