David Fischer, Author Of ‘Derek Jeter: Thanks For The Memories,’ Ranks The Yankee Captain [EXCLUSIVE]
Author David Fischer, a longtime New York Yankees fan and baseball fanatic, has decided to put his love for the sport and his team into a book about one of the most influential players of the last 20 years: Derek Jeter #2: Thanks for the Memories. Derek Jeter led baseball’s most successful team to seven World Series — winning five — and will arguably go down as one of the greatest to ever put on the pin stripes. So while promoting his book, uSports sat down with David to talk about the book, the captain and the hall of fame.
What about Derek Jeter attracted you? Were you already a past fan of the Yankees or was there something about his characteristics?
Well, I have always been a Yankee fan — having grown up in New Jersey. I have been a partial season ticker holder for about 15 years and Jeter certainly has been the mainstay of this dynasty for the past 20 years. And when he retired, I knew I wanted to produce a tribute book and in conversations with the publisher, Sports Publishing, we came up with the idea of doing it in a scrapbook style format. And I am very pleased with how it turned out.
What sets this apart from other tales about Derek Jeter? Why should readers pick Derek Jeter #2: Thanks for the Memories opposed to the hundreds of bios that have been written about him?
This is more of a coffee table book; it is driven by the photographs of Derek — not only the action, but also the behind the scenes so to speak. Imagine yourself being a fly on the wall in the dugout, in the locker room, in the training center, at spring training. There are a lot of pictures you expect to see like the flip play, the dive into the stands or hitting a home run; but also there are pictures of him working out with sweat dripping off him, hanging out with fans giving autographs, with an attractive young woman on the town: that is what separates the book. And there is also memorabilia — pictures of his World Series rings or the bat that he used in the final game played at Yankee Stadium — scattered throughout the book as artwork.
As for the content, obviously I think my writing about the moments we’ve chosen is important, but the voice of Derek, with pullout quotes, is throughout the book: as are quotes from his teammates and the opponents who show their respect and admiration for him — David Ortiz, Evan Longoria and other superstars of the game. As well as the final chapter, where we have taken Derek’s career record against the best pitchers of his era: to show how he faired against them. And then Derek and the pitchers have quotes back and forth about what it was like facing that particular player. But it’s a photo driven, heavily illustrated, book with some great photographs.
You mentioned there are some little seen photos in the book. How did you get these images?
Well, we were able, through the publisher, to come up with a nice arrangement with the Associated Press, who has been covering Derek’s career the whole time — even from his rookie season. And through research, we were able to find pictures of Derek from high school, as a minor league player with the Yankees and the first time he came to Yankee Stadium to be introduced while receiving minor league awards. So it was a lot of research with the Associated Press and all of their photographers.
Did you attempt to contact Jeter for some input? Or did you want the book to be written from an outside perspective?
I wanted to do it from an outside perspective. I knew there would be other books out there — even though they would be different — that would be competing. I did contact the Turn 2 Foundation — Derek’s organization — to get permission for some family pictures, but they denied the permission. But it is okay because I was able to find other pictures that were just as good through the different photo agencies based in New York.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about Jeter?
The most surprising thing I learned about him is that he never made a mistake. You know players make physical errors, but he never made a mental error on the field and he never seemed to take a misstep off the field: especially playing under the glare of the spotlight of New York. It would have been very easy — very human in fact — to make one error, but he never said the wrong thing, never embarrassed himself, his family, the Yankees, Major League Baseball or any teammate. You think it would happen by mistake, just by being in the spotlight for 20 years: Derek always seemed to know how to say the right thing at the right time. So that was very surprising that someone in the spotlight for that long could be untarnished.
As an expert in this field, I am sure you have ranked the legendary Yankees players: where do you put Jeter on the all time list?
I think he is certainly in the top ten: he didn’t change baseball — Babe Ruth saved the sport. And Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, these are the immortal Yankees. Jeter is a winner and the face of the organization for the latest dynasty and he deserves his due. So if I had to choose, I would maybe put him sixth on the all time list — not bad though.
It will be interesting because Mariano Rivera will come up a year before Jeter. So we may be speculating if Jeter will beat Mariano’s record. But I do believe he will, [yet] I don’t believe anyone will be a unanimous vote for a couple of more decades. It seems that some of the older purists voters have to leave the system: the ones who say that no one should get in unanimously, which is wrong because if you are a hall of famer like Jeter, you are a hall of famer.