By Clifford W. Mills
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Additional resources for Derek Jeter (Baseball Superstars)
He felt as if he was failing: He was 0-for-14, without a single hit in his first 14 at-bats. He struck out five times in his first seven at-bats. He had not struck out five times in an entire year in high school. The pitches looked as tiny as Tic Tac candies. He felt lost and depressed, wondering if he made the right move in signing with a team right out of high school. Jeter remembers standing on the balcony at the Radisson Bay Harbor Inn in Tampa at the end of the first week, looking out onto the causeway and counting cars.
Five different shortstops had started for the Yankees in the past five years, and no one believed that the team’s search had ended when Torre penciled in the name of Derek Jeter on the lineup card to start the 1996 season. It is thought that Steinbrenner came into Torre’s office a week before the season started and asked if they should trade for a veteran shortstop, someone they knew could at least hold down the position for another year. Jeter had not done well during spring training, and people within the organization were having doubts.
The walkout was the eighth work stoppage in baseball’s history and the third in 23 years to occur during the playing season. The strike lasted 232 days; 938 games were canceled, including the 1994 World Series. Baseball became the first sport in history to lose its postseason. Some estimate that $1 billion was lost by players and team owners, the two sides in the battle. When it ended, neither side had given in. The only change was that hundreds of thousands of fans had lost interest in the game.