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Beating the Odds

What Would Derek Jeter’s Business Slogan Be?

Years ago, when I was a sports writer traveling on business, I met a friend and rival for dinner.

He insisted that we go to a certain restaurant chain, saying that was the only place at which he would eat while he was on the road.

“I know exactly what I’m going to get,” he said.

That level of comfort and predictability is what makes Derek Jeter the icon he is today, getting gifts at every big-league park he visits and now being featured on the cover of The New Yorker magazine.

With Jeter, as with any food, grocery or clothing chain, you always know what you’re getting.

“When a company wants to be included in national baseball, the first person they look at is Derek Jeter,” Brian Helfrich, then-assistant managing editor of SportsBusiness Daily, told the New York Post in the summer of 2010. “He’s the best face of the best brand in baseball.”

“A company knows what they get with Jeter,” Helfrich said. “He’s a nice guy, he’s always smiling with a beautiful celebrity on his arm. And he’s also stayed out of trouble.”

Jeter has been giving the New York Yankees and fans the same thing since he broke into the major leagues in 1995 and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award the next season.

“With Jeter there are no surprises,” says my friend and co-author Dr. Rob Gilbert, a professor of sport psychology at Montclair State University. “He’s like a restaurant chain. You can go anywhere in the world and get the same thing.

“He’s never made an error off the field. He’s made some on the field, but never off.”

Considering Jeter’s image, what would make a great slogan for him?

Would it be like Porsche? “There is no substitute.”

Or IMAX? “Think Big”

How about FedEx? “When there is no tomorrow.”

Jeter’s career is a model in a world where pro athletes are always talking about consistency.

“Never too high, never too low,” they say. “No peaks, no valleys.”

They all talk about it. Few achieve it on the level of Jeter. One notable exception is the St. Louis Cardinals’ Stan Musial, who, like Jeter, spent his entire big-league career with the same team. Musial had 3,630 hits, 1,815 of them at home and 1,815 on the road. Like Jeter, Musial was a perfect gentleman, called by onetime commissioner Ford Frick “baseball’s perfect knight.”

Jeter is trying to pass along his formula for consistent performance. His Turn 2 Foundation aims at teaching kids a healthy lifestyle.

“Reaching out to young people is important, particularly so I can share with them what I have learned about the value of living a healthy lifestyle,” Jeter writes on his website. “It’s not always easy, but I can help them learn how to make good choices that will impact their lives in a positive way.”

Now, almost exactly a half-century since Musial retired, baseball is saying goodbye to another of his type. Musial and Jeter walk together through history, not as gods but as humans who found a way to do it every day.

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Greatness begins with the way you think, and “Think Better, Win More!: How Sport Psychology Can Make you a Champion” will help.

To improve at anything, check out “The Improvement Factor: How Champions Turn Practice into Success.”

Need some motivation? Open any page of “Thank God You’re Lazy! The Instant Cure for What’s Holding You Back” for a story or a quote to lift your spirits.

Are you a coach? Here’s “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” by Mike Tully and Gary Pritchard.


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