Review: The Captain by Ian O’Connor

Title: The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter

Author: Ian O’Connor

Genre/Pages: Biography/416

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.

I took this shot at a game in April 2012. #dreamy

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.


  1. plus he’s HOT.

  2. I’m not much of a baseball fan, but I was very impressed with the way Jeter behaved when the Yankees played an exhibition game against Virginia Tech. He was so nice to all the kids there, giving many of them a memory to last a lifetime.

  3. Um, yes…there is that. 🙂

  4. Good for your for holding your own with the boys on the baseball team! I’m impressed. I barely made it on my softball team. And Jeter does seem like a classy guy. We could use more like him in the world.

  5. Jeter lover.

  6. My boyfriend is a big Yankee fan and always says that if Jeter is ever caught up in some performance-enhancing scandal, he’s done with baseball, period. Jeter seems to just be a guy who loves to play baseball; he represents everything good and timeless about the game. You never see his personal life interfere with the game…or much about his personal life at all. He’s just out there to play. He is Benny the Jet Rodriguez IN REAL LIFE!

  7. A nice gift for a fan of Jeter? or fan of baseball? just curious since i live in the ‘hate-all-things-Yankee’ part of New England.

  8. i have to tell you that i was super impressed by derek’s parents and the way they parented their kids. it’s nice to read a story about an athlete/celebrity with class.

  9. if ant ever ditches me, i’m heading to the bronx to pick up jeter. he’s so dreamy.

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