Jeter’s New Position: From Infield to Book Publisher

Jeter’s New Position: From Infield to Book Publisher

By
Published: November 14, 2013

The New York Times

Derek Jeter, the Yankees’ shortstop and captain, who is nearing the final act of a golden athletic career, is ready to talk about his life after baseball. He wants to be a book publisher.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Derek Jeter suggested that his upcoming book enterprise might lead to other ways of presenting content, like movies or television.

Bats

On Thursday, he is expected to announce that he will start his own publishing division, Jeter Publishing, a partnership with Simon & Schuster. Saying he had thought a lot about his future while recovering from injuries last season, he portrayed the move as a way to explore a project that combines his interests in business and content.

“I think this sort of sets the blueprint for postcareer,” said Jeter, fresh off a plane from Tampa, Fla., and wearing a loose black blazer and jeans during an interview at his agent’s Midtown office on Wednesday afternoon. “This is a great way to start.”

The publishing imprint will include nonfiction books for adults, like biographies and titles on business and lifestyle; children’s picture books; middle-grade fiction; and books for young children who are just learning to read. Jeter suggested the book enterprise might lead to other ways of presenting content, like films or television.

Jeter Publishing, whose first books are expected to be released in 2014, might provide a partial answer to fans who have wondered what Jeter’s plans after baseball might entail.

It’s a question that has been occupying him lately as he prepares for what might be his final season. He became the Yankees’ full-time shortstop in 1996, when he was 21, and will turn 40 in June. In the 2013 season, he was hampered by various leg injuries — all of them linked to a broken ankle he suffered in October 2012 — that sent him to the disabled list several times.

Adding to the speculation was the departure of several of Jeter’s closest teammates — Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada — who retired in the last two years. But Jeter, known for his polite but unrevealing interactions with the press, has been circumspect about when he will make his own exit from the sport.

“A lot of ‘end’ talk here, man — do you guys want this to be the end for me?” Jeter said, a little crankily, at a news conference in Baltimore in September. “Have I thought about it? No. I don’t think you think about the end of anything. Our job is to be ready to play; it’s always been that way.”

On Wednesday, Jeter said that his “No. 1 focus” was getting ready for the 2014 season. He recently signed a one-year, $12 million deal that will take him through next season and, he said firmly, his ankle is feeling good. He said he fully expected to be the Yankees’ everyday shortstop next spring.

But in recent months, Jeter said, he has let his mind wander to the next phase of his career. An impetus was the repeated injuries, which forced him to rest. “I’ve had a lot of time to myself to think,” he said. “The whole last year has been sort of a blur. Being away from it for so long gave me the opportunity to think about what the future may hold after baseball.”

Jeter Publishing has been quietly in the works for most of the last year. Excel Sports Management, his agency, talked to several publishers about the possibility of an imprint. Simon & Schuster was approached in March, said Louise Burke, the president of Gallery Books, a division of the company whose editorial team will work with Jeter on titles for adults.

“As he moves on into his career, he wanted to get involved in book publishing in a way that he could not just publish books by him or about him, but to curate books from other walks of life, like food, fashion and music,” Burke said in an interview. “He really looks at this as a long-term project.”

Jeter, who has not indicated any strong interest in someday being a baseball manager or general manager, said that he had consulted with athletes who retired from sports — he declined to name them — about the smart way to transition from one career to another.

“I’ve always had an interest in business, and my interest in business has really expanded over the years,” Jeter said. “And I have an interest in content. So this gives me the opportunity to really combine the two. And it gives me the opportunity to curate and share interesting stories and share content with the public.”

Jeter Publishing will be working with Wicked Cow Entertainment, a firm that manages strategy for sports and entertainment brands and will be looking for “brand extensions” for book content.

“You never know where this may go,” Jeter said. “You look at all the opportunities that come with content in general, I mean, there might be a compelling story that someone has that turns into a film or a TV show.”

Endorsement deals have always come easily to Jeter, who has appeared in ads for Movado watches, Visa, Ford and Gatorade, among others. Casey Close, Jeter’s longtime agent, said in an email that Jeter has been “very selective about his relationships” throughout his career. When he does get involved in something, Close said, Jeter brings “a special level of respectability.”

“Extending that to the publishing world, notable people with interesting stories will be able to know, and trust, that their stories will be treated in an honorable manner,” Close said.

Jon Anderson, the president of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, said that Jeter’s parents, Dorothy and Charles, are planning to meet with the editorial staff at Simon & Schuster to provide “background on young Derek Jeter.” Jeter’s charitable organization, the Turn 2 Foundation, will be involved with the children’s books stamped with the Jeter name.

One of the first books planned, Anderson said, will be a “Derek Jeter guide to baseball” for younger readers that can be updated and reissued each year.

Jeter said he intends to be deeply involved in the details of every book. He has final approval over which titles are signed. He wants to weigh in on decisions like what a book’s title is and what the cover art looks like. “If I put my name on something, I’m going to be involved,” he said. “I’m not just going to put my name on it and not pay attention

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