Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Day in Cleveland Jeter Proved Clyde King Wrong

George Steinbrenner's trusted aide, Clyde King, wanted rookie shortstop Derek Jeter benched before the '96 season opener in Cleveland

From "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter"

Jeter was batting ninth in Torre’s order, and he represented the Yankees’ sixth different Opening Day shortstop in six years. Jeter was facing a forty-year-old Cleveland pitcher, Dennis Martinez, who had been signed by the Baltimore Orioles before Derek was born.

The rookie felt the butterflies in his stomach, butterflies with condor wings. He struck out looking in his fi rst at-bat when Martinez used a sidearm delivery that caught Jeter by surprise. Up again in the fifth inning, Jeter got ahead 2-0 in the count and waited to see if the ageless Cleveland starter would make a mistake. Sure enough, Martinez threw a high fastball, and Jeter turned on it as few thought he could.

He hit it 395 feet and into the left-field stands, giving the Yankees a 2–0 lead. “Wow!” Torre said. “I didn’t see that all spring.” Joe Girardi had the same reaction, as did most of the Yanks.

Clyde King, watching on TV, suddenly had an appraisal that sounded nothing
like the one he had issued in Torre’s Tampa office.

“When he hit that home run,” King said, “I went, ‘Wow, this could be
some kind of player.’ ”

From The Captain

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