Driven: Branding Derek Jeter, Redefining Race

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2009-09-07 21:49Z by Steven

Driven: Branding Derek Jeter, Redefining Race

NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture
Volume 17, Number 2, Spring 2009
pages  70-79
E-ISSN: 1534-1844 Print ISSN: 1188-9330
DOI: 10.1353/nin.0.0041

Roberta Newman

Promoting the opening of the Museum of the City of New York’s exhibit, “The Glory Days: New York Baseball, 1947-1957,” curator Ann Meyerson noted that for the first time since Jackie Robinson crossed the major league’s color line in 1947, not a single African American player was likely to be included on either of the city’s teams’ twenty-five man rosters in 2007. Excluding, for the sake of argument, Mets prospect Lastings Milledge, now with the Nationals, where did that leave the captain of the New York Yankees, Derek JeterIn a 2005 interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Jeter handled the subject of his race with characteristic, media-savvy care: “My Dad is black, my Mom is Irish, and I’m Catholic, so I hear everything. I’m in New York and there are all different people, all races and religions. I can relate to everyone.”

Since his 1996 rookie season, Derek Jeter has not only played shortstop for the New York Yankees, he has parlayed his ability to “relate to everyone” into what advertisers hope will translate into an ability to “sell to everyone,” working overtime as a pitching machine.  Most of the products Jeter pitched before 2006 were ones generally associated with baseball and conventionally endorsed by its players-Nike sneakers, Gatorade sports drink, Ford cars and trucks, and a variety of breakfast and snack foods, including Ritz crackers, Post cereals, Skippy peanut butter, and, perhaps inevitably, Oreos.  Not so surprisingly for one of the most generously compensated players in the game, Jeter also endorsed a financial institution, Fleet Bank. In his role as a well-known man about town, not altogether unfamiliar to the readers of New York’s gossip columns, Jeter also appeared with his equally famous, generous compensator, George M. Steinbrenner, in a Visa commercial. Recently, however, Jeter has branched out beyond the expected, connecting his image to two very different…

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