Bookshelf reviews: Jeter titles

February 12, 2015

Derek Jeter: Excellence and Elegance, compiled and edited by Tyler Kepner. Triumph, 2014.

Jeter Unfiltered, by Derek Jeter with photographs by Christopher Anderson. Gallery Books, 2015.

How do you tell the story of one of the most iconic players of his generation in a few hundred pages?

As the Yankees’ future Hall of Fame shortstop began to count down his career, publishers began planning on their tributes. Newspapers especially looked to cash in, recycling articles and photos from their archives. The New York Post published their version — Derek Jeter: Born to Be a Yankee — in August, more than a month before Jeter played his last game. Newsday and the New York Times had the decency to wait until the end of the calendar year to release theirs. (Newsday‘s Derek Jeter: A New York Yankees Legend sells for a modest $2.99 as a Kindle title.)

Excellence and Elegance is a great example of this kind of book. It starts with Jeter’s rookie beginnings and concludes with his final game. Staff writers and columnists include Jack Curry, Dave Anderson, George Vecsey, and Kepner, with a handful of other tossed in. There are no statistics, no analyitics comparing him with his contemporaries or other Yankees and/or shortstops throughout the history of the game. Mostly the stories, divided into five-year periods, note a special highlight (all-time Yankees hits leader, 3,000 hits, the last game of the old Yankee Stadium) or extraordinary effort (“The Dive” and “The Flip,” both, amazingly, against theĀ  Oakland As), and even a few personal moments (dealing with his sister’s cancer).

Jeter Unfiltered, ostensibly by the man himself (there’s no co-author listed on the dust jacket, but inside we learn the project was written “with Anthony Bozza,” who receives no other mention, either in the “special thanks to” in the cre4dits section or on the back flap although photographer Anderson does), reminds me of the HBO Sports documentary Derek 3K leading up to his 3,000th hit game in 2011. It’s meant as an up-close-and-personal look into the life of a major figure who lived under the radar, made few waves, didn’t cause trouble, was pretty much a quiet sort.

Unless you want to believe otherwise:

Jeter Unfiltered is modest in presentation, which is fitting considering the topic. It might have been nice to caption some of the photos to identify the events and people the capture, Gallery just happens to be Jeter’s own imprint under the Simon and Schuster family and it’s a nice first step.

Someday soon, someone will write a full-length biography, these aren’t those.



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