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Detroit News Article On Derek Jeter's Michigan Roots

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As some of you know, Derek Jeter is from Michigan. This article was in The Detroit News today and I figured some you may enjoy it.


Derek Jeter's secret: hard work



The Detroit News

Portage, Mich. -- Sitting comfortably in his living room on a fall night, Mike Hinga watched as his former star pupil hit a home run in the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.

Hinga coached Yankees captain Derek Jeter 20 years ago with the Kalamazoo Maroons. For three summers, Jeter would play 70 games in Connie Mack competition to perfect his skills.

Little did Hinga know then that Jeter would become one of the best players in baseball history, leading the Yankees to four World Series titles, and vying for a fifth beginning tonight against the Phillies.

Jeter is as good as ever at age 35, hitting .334 with 212 hits and 30 stolen bases this season.

"We knew he'd be a good one, but how could you know (he'd be this good)?" Hinga said of Jeter, who has more hits (2,747) than any Yankees player, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle, and has more postseason hits (164) than any player in baseball history.

"He came to us when he was 14. The Maroons were the program back then. He had things other kids didn't. He had better instincts. He had better work ethic. He was a little quicker and had a stronger arm. The thing I always felt about Derek was how he played for the love of the game. There was no external force or showing off. He had something special in the way of how he was so competitive."

Hinga, who will turn 60 in January, has been in charge of the Maroons for 30 years. He has a Jeter wall in his home with pictures, balls and cards.

Last to leave

As Hinga watched Jeter hit the home run to the opposite field against the Angels, he said, "There's Jeter's trademark, how he has high hands and he launches it from that position. He's such a great inside-out hitter.

"He always hit for high average and had gap power when he played for us. He didn't pull it down the line. That's not his approach."

Hinga put together a 70-game schedule to give his players the opportunity to see what a full-time player's schedule is like. He said Jeter took advantage of every opportunity and was usually the last player to leave practices.

"We wanted to have our schedule be like the southern states' schedule," Hinga said. "You get your baseball IQ by playing in a lot of games to know what to do in certain situations.

"At practice, Derek would literally be the last one to leave. He wouldn't say, 'Could you hit me some grounders?' He would say, 'If you have time could you hit some more grounders?'

"If I didn't have time, his parents would usually be there and hit him some. ... There would be times his mom would be out hitting him grounders. A lot of his success has to do with his parents. They had strict guidelines for him. It was like 'You don't have to do it, but if you're going to do something you're going to do it the right way.' "

Hinga recalled how major league scouts were routinely at the Maroons games to watch the gangly, 6-foot-3, 155-pounder..

"You knew the scouts were there, but it was more of a secretive world back then," Hinga said. "(Former Tigers pitcher) Hal Newhouser was at a lot of games. He was the scout at the time for the Houston Astros and they had the first pick (in the 1992 draft).

"Newhouser said Derek would be a major leaguer for 20 years, if not at shortstop then in center field. He said the Astros would be picking Derek with the No. 1 pick or he'd quit. Well, the Astros went with a college player in Phil Nevin, and Hal quit."

The next four teams picked college players -- Cleveland chose pitcher Paul Shuey, Montreal took pitcher B.J. Wallace, Baltimore took outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds and Cincinnati took outfielder Chad Mottola.

That allowed the Yankees to pick Jeter with the sixth pick.

No ego

Hinga talks to Jeter a couple times a year. He last saw him last winter when Jeter was inducted into Kalamazoo Central High's hall of fame.

"I'm glad I was involved in his growth process and didn't screw him up," Hinga said, joking. "What you hope is that you did teach respect for the game. ...

"Whenever we talk it's just like we continued the conversation from the previous time. He seems genuinely interested in the person he's talking to. He doesn't talk about his celebrity. He wants to make you comfortable.

"I remember five or six years ago going to Comerica Park to watch him play. I'm not the type of guy to tell him I'm coming, to get me tickets. He has a lot going on. He had no idea I was coming. He was taking ground balls at shortstop during batting practice, looked through the stands and picked me out some 10 to 15 rows back and signaled me to come down. That's just the way he is."

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He's smart for the simple fact he's never been married. Good call when you have that kind of cash.

Talk about set for life. He'll have his # retired upon leaving the game and probably a job within the Yanks organization.

No doubt about it. Basically if your going to become a Yankee you better pick a number higher then 10 lol

Plus Jeter just built a house in Tampa that has a 10 car garage you know he is set for life.. Money is not a option to Jeter

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He's smart for the simple fact he's never been married. Good call when you have that kind of cash.

Talk about set for life. He'll have his # retired upon leaving the game and probably a job within the Yanks organization.

It'll be well deserved, pure class.

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