Derek Jeter is one of few persons of color in Major League Baseball who holds a leadership role in the front office as CEO and part-owner of the Miami Marlins, and the Yankees legend believes that baseball can do better.
The Hall of Fame shortstop said that baseball is an “industry that needs to change” during an interview with Harold Reynolds in an MLB Network special on Juneteenth.
“I hope it’s something people can speak honestly about and people can admit that we can make changes in the sport, in society, but especially in the sport,” Jeter said. “This is an industry that needs to change. We need to see more people of color and more diversity at the owners meetings, we need to see it at the GM meetings, we need to see it everywhere throughout the game – on the field, need to see it – you can’t just talk about it. You need to take action, and that’s what I’m hoping for.”
Jeter has been vocal in recent weeks about the issues of race that face the country, releasing statements on death of George Floyd and how the Marlins organization plans to support its players in speaking up on sensitive matters.
“It’s how I feel,” Jeter said. “You get to a point where you say when is it going to stop? How many more tragedies? George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s countless others that people never even hear their stories and something needs to change. It gets to the point where enough is enough.”
Many players across all sports have taken a larger role in speaking out against systemic racism and using their platform to influence social issues and shed light on their own experiences.
As a player, Jeter never peeled back the curtain much during his career, but in his interview with Reynolds he shared what it was like growing up as a mixed-race son with a black father and white mother in Kalamazoo, Mich.
“When I grew up, at the time interracial marriage was not as common as it may be nowadays,” Jeter said. “Growing up, every time you went somewhere with just one of your parents, people would look at you and they’d wonder who’s this person you’re with. When you went out to eat or to a store with both parents, you really got some uncomfortable looks.
“My parents were very direct with me, my sister as well, you got to make sure you surround yourself with people of all nationalities, of all colors and don’t let anyone talk down to you because of your race. Stick up for yourself. Those were the times and unfortunately those still are the times, and that’s what we talk about in it’s time for a change.”
Despite the tragedies that continue to occur, Jeter said he feels optimistic that there will be change.
“This younger generation is pretty impressive. You have people of all colors out protesting and that’s what gives you hope and pray that things are going to change,” he said. “I’m hopeful, this time, but only time will tell. It’s more than just talk, you have to take action. We can’t just forget about it a month from now. This is something that’s been going on long enough and in order for things to change you have to take action.”