Thursday, April 21, 2011
The Captain, by Ian O'Connor
This advanced reader copy (ARC) was provided to me by the publisher through the Amazon Vine program, of which I am a member.
I'm a Yankee fan, and Derek Jeter is my favorite player. So maybe I was predisposed to like this book. On the other hand, if author Ian O'Connor didn't get his facts straight, I'd know, and call him on it. But O'Connor did an excellent job of research, and adding in quotes and stats and examples without ever getting wordy or boring or redundant. He gives us a peek behind the curtain of Jeter's life in chronological order and keeps it interesting throughout. This despite the fact that Jeter has not exactly led a controversial life.
We're used to the scandalous biography, the tell-all, the skeletons dragged out of the closet. This book doesn't have that. Because there are no skeletons in Jeter's closet. This is a book about one person's lifelong work to achieve a dream: to play shortstop for the New York Yankees. Okay, so maybe a lot of people have that dream. The difference is Jeter actually accomplished it--and in a big way. This is his story.
There are thirteen chapters, an introduction, and an epilogue. O'Connor covers all the bases (pardon the pun), and is such a good writer that the story flows along nicely, without getting bogged down with boring details, or unnecessary tangents. He even makes the second chapter, "The Draft," exciting (even though we already know the outcome), as he chronicles how Jeter lasted until the sixth pick of the 1992 draft, when the Yanks were finally able to nab him. Only once did O'Connor get a little off-track; that's when he spent too long on the Jeffrey Maier incident. Well, not such much the incident, as the fame and media tour Maier and his family went on afterward, and what led him to getting a ticket to the game to begin with (Maier was the 12 year-old fan who leaned over the wall and caught Jeter's homerun ball during the '96 ALCS).
The subtitle of this book is "The Journey of Derek Jeter," and that's exactly what it is. From his boyhood dream of playing for the Yankees, to the reality of leading the team to five championships, the most recent of which (2009) as the team's captain.
But this book isn't just about Jeter's journey--it's also about the journey of Jeter's Yankees, from his first season as a full-time player (1996), through the dynasty years, to his relationship with other Yankees (Joe Torre, Alex Rodriguez), to the new ballpark and World Series win in 2009, and on up to and including the 2010 season, and his contract negotiation afterward.
THE CAPTAIN is an inspirational book about hard work, family, and believing in yourself.