By Rob Iracane
On Thursday night, HBO aired an hour-long documentary about New York Yankees star Derek Jeter’s(notes) pursuit of his historic 3,000th hit. It was not a film shot from afar, rather an intimate look into the life of a personality because Jeter allowed HBO and MLB Productions to mike him up during rehab games and interview him in his private house. Jeter says he was so upfront and open in this documentary because “if and when” he has children, he wants them to be able to see their dad as a player.
But on the slim chance that Jeter’s future children won’t spring for a premium subscription — or on the good chance your cheapskate self didn’t — we thought we’d save everyone a few bucks by screencapping 10 of the doc’s most noteworthy and interesting scenes.
1. The film begins with our hero headed to the DL with an injured calf in late June. And our first glimpse of Derek Jeter arriving at the Tampa facility to start his rehab has him wearing a T-shirt from the University of Michigan, the college he was planning to attend after high school until he was drafted with the sixth pick by the Yankees in the 1992 draft. Sadly, there are too many female Wolverine alumni in their mid-to-late 30s who have no idea what they missed because of that decision.
2. Jeter celebrates his 37th birthday while rehabbing in Tampa but does not miss out on a sweet birthday treat. But don’t worry about the calorie count because after all that intense rehabbing and treatment, he needed it. Yankees senior player development guy Billy Connors waddles in with a decorated birthday cake saying, “This is for all these guys to enjoy.”
Hey, it’s no Fudgie the Whale, but at least they did spell his name right.
3. Minka Kelly, Jeter’s Hollywood girlfriend, is as sweet as she is beautiful. Minka opens up for the cameras and reveals that before she met Derek she knew nothing about baseball but learned everything about the game from sitting in luxury boxes with Derek’s father. When she and Derek started dating, she thought just making contact with a pitch counted as a base hit.
4. If we are to believe this film, Jeter’s rehab mostly involved him running on a treadmill in a pool and getting Icy Hot rubbed on his calf. Later, we do see him playing rehab games in Trenton wearing the ugliest uniform possible where he glad-handed everyone from the fans to his new temporary teammates to even the opposing catcher. Don’t lie: You’d swoon too.
5. Back in New York, the furnishings in Jeter’s lofty apartment seem a bit sparse. We don’t get to see into his most intimate of areas like the bedroom or bathroom, but we see his kitchen and dining room, where the decor is as bland as his personality. (Although maybe Jeter’s apartment is like the White House: Half for the public to see and the other half for private quarters.)
We also meet Jeter’s personal chef Lisa Schoen, who at one point complains about essentially being a short-order cook when Jeter hosts 10 of his friends at his NYC apartment for lunch before a game. Schoen doesn’t hold back, either, saying that when she started cooking for Jeter, the only seafood that he ate was shrimp. But that was before Lisa served him a delicious bass!
6. See what we mean about the furnishings? Jeter is even seen using a poker table while having a meeting with agent Casey Close. Perhaps Mr. Close is showing Jeter a few different desk options from the latest Ikea catalogue.
7. Jeter? That guy doesn’t have an Edge. Despite the locally shown New York area commercials that imply our hero drives Ford’s crossover SUV, it appears he’s driving something more befitting of a multi-millionaire, like a fully loaded Expedition.
8. The documentary wasn’t without its maudlin moments. For some reason, the filmmakers thought that interviewing “comedian” Billy Crystal would add some insight to the production. It’s unclear why HBO considers Crystal the go-to guy for Yankees historical recollection, but it’s shocking that he wasn’t CGI’ed into this scene featuring Jeter’s friends, Doug Biro and former teammate Gerald Williams.
9. Is there a classier set of parents in the big leagues than Mr. and Mrs. Jeter? Derek’s father expresses his love for his son, saying that throughout his son’s childhood, adolescence and professional career, the results didn’t matter nearly as much as the effort. And we learn that on the day Jeter collected his 3,000th hit, his mother was at the christening for Jeter’s nephew instead. Derek selfishly admits he wishes that his mom and sister were at the game, but we later see him on a postgame helicopter ride to make it to the after party.
10. Finally, after 45 minutes of back story, we finally see the big 3,000, a hard-hit homer to left field off Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price(notes). But to hear Jeter tell it, there was never a guarantee that it would happen at home in front of a sold-out Yankee Stadium. The film even builds up the tension surrounding the Friday night rainout that could have pushed the milestone past the All-Star break, when the Yankees would start on the road. When asked about the delay in reaching the milestone caused by his calf injury, Derek admitted: “I felt like I was disappointing people.”
But in the end, the only people he disappointed were opposing pitchers looking to shut him down for 17 seasons. Those Michigan coeds, too.