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It’s a steamy Saturday morning, and Jeter is standing in the first-floor dining room of the brick 1830s West Village townhouse he’s renting. He’s wearing a gray, maize, and blue University of Michigan T-shirt in anticipation of his beloved Wolverines’ football game tonight against Notre Dame.At 40, he is ancient for a major leaguer, but up close he is leaner than he appears in uniform.With his shaved head, light-green eyes, and coiled serenity, Jeter could pass for a charismatic yoga instructor.
And yet, despite being on our television sets seven months a year for the past 20 years, despite the regular appearances at charity events and a social life that seems to have included dating three-quarters of the Maxim Hot 100, he’s always felt just out of reach, available for all to adore but somehow still protected by an impenetrable, cannily constructed bubble of privacy.
Opening the door to his home is a hint of a looming shift in Jeter’s life, and in Jeter, Inc. It’s his latest stop on a cross-country farewell tour celebrating not just Jeter’s Hall of Fame–caliber playing career but his humility and rectitude off the field.
Jeter announced in February, via Facebook, that he would be retiring after this season.
Since then, he’s done a remarkable job of tuning out the impending end of his athletic life, at least publicly. “It’s just over.” He has no interest in the traditional jock afterlife: coaching or commentating or getting fat.
His business pursuits will likely be varied, but they will all be characteristically Jeter: He will be the one in charge. He’s radiated a confidence, a command, that has lifted not just his own play but that of his teammates.
His signature stroke—a line drive the opposite way, to right field—is an act of both iron will and unselfishness.
It’s hard to say what’s more remarkable: that Jeter has been able to sustain such consistent control for 20 years under the New York spotlight, or that it was there from the moment he fully arrived onstage as a 21-year-old rookie in 1996.
At home, though, down to his final days in pinstripes, Jeter is by turns wistful, proud, funny, even a bit cranky. Instead, he’s launched a publishing imprint at Simon & Schuster. “I’m letting you go up one level.” In his bedroom in Tampa with his longtime masseuse Nicole, whom Jeter flies in for his massages.
A children’s book comes out September 23, followed in October by Jeter Unfiltered, a collection of evocative, documentary-style off-field photographs by Christopher Anderson—and a significant departure for the privacy-conscious icon. In a media landscape where stars are increasingly taking ownership of the means of production—Oprah Winfrey rose from talk-show host to media conglomerate, Dr. “She puts him through some pain,” says photographer Christopher Anderson, who captured the intimate moments with Jeter included numbers rank with those of baseball’s all-time greats: the sixth-most hits, the five championship rings, the 19th-highest offensive WAR.