Jeter shares memories of Steinbrenner

Updated: July 13, 2010, 8:59 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Derek Jeter looked at George Steinbrenner as a father figure, which in part meant that Steinbrenner could instill fear.

During his first year in the majors, a 21-year-old Jeter learned of The Boss' football mentality following a Yankees early-season victory. Not only did The Boss want to win every game, he wanted to win each one flawlessly.

Jeter was picked off on a line drive during the victory. Afterward, The Boss berated him.

[+] EnlargeDerek Jeter
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonJeter spoke about The Boss in a news conference prior to Tuesday night's All-Star Game.

"Don't ever get doubled off again," Jeter recalled The Boss yelling.

On Tuesday morning, Jeter woke up to a phone full of messages. He described himself as "shocked" by the news of the 80-year-old Steinbrenner's passing.

Jeter last saw Steinbrenner at the Yankees' home opener, when he presented Steinbrenner with his 2009 World Series ring. Jeter, raised in Michigan, teased Steinbrenner about replacing his Ohio State ring with his new Yankees one.

Jeter, who lives in The Boss' hometown of Tampa, called Steinbrenner more than just an owner. Jeter said he was a friend, whom he had planned to visit on Wednesday or Thursday in Florida.

In 2003, with Steinbrenner's admiration for Jeter at its peak, the then 29-year-old Jeter was told to call Steinbrenner.

"I got a phone call saying The Boss wanted to talk to me and figured I was in trouble again," Jeter said.

Jeter phoned Steinbrenner expecting the worst, but getting the best. The Boss told him how much he respected how Jeter went about his work.

"It's a memory I will always cherish," Jeter said. "Not only because I thought I was getting in trouble, but I realized what that title [of captain] meant to him and to this Yankees organization."

Jeter was born in 1974, a year and a half after Steinbrenner bought the team. Jeter grew up a Yankees fan, dreaming of playing shortstop for them.

"I was well aware of him and his reputation," Jeter said.

After he signed as the sixth overall pick in the 1992 MLB draft, Jeter played in the Gulf Coast League. Jeter knew of Steinbrenner's larger-than-life persona.

It was in his first encounter with Steinbrenner that he was "shocked." The Boss walked over to the 18-year-old Jeter and addressed him by his first name.

"He said, 'We expect big things from you,'" Jeter recalled.

The Yankees got big things, but that didn't mean that The Boss ever left Jeter alone. At one point, Jeter -- a Page Six staple -- even got called out publicly for going out too much. The two would later act in a Visa commercial together, making light of the issue.

"I thought we discussed this thing and had it all worked out," Steinbrenner said to Jeter in the commercial, which was filmed in The Boss' office. "You are our starting shortstop, how can you possibly afford to spend two nights dancing, two nights eating out and three nights just carousing with your friends?"

Jeter then showed Steinbrenner his Visa card, and Steinbrenner said, "Oh." At the end of the commercial, Jeter and Steinbrenner were in a cha-cha line together.

That was a glimpse into another side of Steinbrenner -- the side Jeter enjoyed the most, the personal side.

"Most people know him as being this vocal owner," Jeter said. "But if you got an opportunity to know him, you got to realize not only the great things he did with the community, but [what he did for] the past players and current players."

Jeter was one of them. He grew from being intimidated as an 18-year-old to being berated as a 22-year-old to being The Captain as a 29-year-old. And when it was all said and done, Jeter, an All-Star again at 36, looked at Steinbrenner as more than just an owner, but a friend and father figure.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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