Review: The Captain by Ian O’Connor
Author: Ian O’Connor
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: May 16, 2011
Rating: 3.5 bookmarks
Source: Publisher via netGalley
Nat’s One-Sentence Synopsis: Armed with information gleaned from more than 200 interviews, Ian O’Connor offers up a solid–if longish–biography of New York Yankee Captain Derek Jeter that would make a nice gift for any fan.
In 4th grade, my parents signed me up for our township’s baseball league without realizing that 99% of the girls in town played softball. I ended up being one of three girls in a league dominated by boys, but my team finished the season in 1st place with yours truly taking home a trophy for Most Improved Player.
During my time on the field, I learned the the rules and nuances of the game and found that the coach generally frowned upon certain players (read: me) turning cartwheels while playing right field. From that single season, I cast my lot as a baseball fan and now look forward to February because it signals the start of the pre-season.
I’ve been following the Yankees for about 13 years–mostly listening to games on the radio–but have gone to some exhibition games in Florida and regular season games in the Bronx. While I’ve cheered everyone from Bernie Williams to Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter has always been my favorite player and sports personality.
I was eager to read The Captain by Ian O’Connor and was thrilled when the publisher sent me a copy via netGalley. O’Connor details Jeter’s career trajectory from his early years in New Jersey and Michigan, his struggles as a rookie, and his meteoric rise to fame in the Yankees organization. Countless interviews with players, family members, coaches, friends, and even a few rivals offer up glimpses into the life of this living legend.
From his early days playing little league to his career in the majors, Jeter has left a lasting impression on teammates and coaches. By all accounts, he is a driven player and classy guy who was raised in a strict household with parents who instilled in him a strong moral compass and sense of self. He comports himself in such a way that leaves little room for criticism or salacious gossip–with the exception of his love life, which is always fodder for the papers.
I was intrigued by Jeter’s parents and the manner in which they raised Derek and his younger sister, Sharlee. They didn’t tolerate much and demanded a great deal from their children academically, socially, and on the field. The family is now very active in Derek’s philanthropic efforts and by all accounts are a down-to-earth, loving group.
Reading about Jeter’s early life and his rocky transition from high school all-star to a homesick Yankees rookie showed a more vulnerable side of Derek Jeter but served to reinforced my opinion that he’s a player with impressive inner strength and motivation. O’Connor went on to discuss Jeter’s relationship with former coach Joe Torre and his interactions with the boorish and overbearing George Steinbrenner.
O’Connor tackled the dicey A-Rod/Jeter relationship and revealed a few of Alex’s desperate attempts to salvage a friendship that he scuttled through careless words during an interview. Jeter’s ability to write off those who cross him speaks to who he is as a man and how much he values honesty, loyalty, and integrity.
The major issue I had with this book was the fact that Jeter didn’t want to be a part of it and declined a sit down with O’Connor to offer his side of many issues and conflicts the book brings to light. Based on what I read in the book, this type of taciturnity is pure Jeter. He’s reserved by nature when it comes to the media and wasn’t interested in participating in the book because he feels his story isn’t done being told. Jeter was also concerned about coming off as boastful. Wow, a celebrity who isn’t into self promotion? Refreshing!
That said, this biography would still be a nice gift (Father’s Day!) to any Yankees or Derek Jeter fan. In addition to writing extensively about Jeter, O’Connor thoroughly covers the organization, management, and key games and events that fans will enjoy.