Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell announced today that Derek Jeter is the 2009 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Jeter is the first New York Yankee to receive this award. Previous winners include Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. The 2009 SI Sportsman of the Year issue hits newsstands Wednesday, December 2. The issue marks the 11th cover appearance for Jeter.
Since 1954 the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year has been presented annually to the person who excelled in athletic performance and demonstrated great character. "Over all the years SI editors have used the same language to define the award," said McDonell. "It is not for the victory alone that he (or she) is honored; rather, it is for the quality of his effort and the manner of his striving.' And that defines Derek Jeter."
"While having a Hall of Fame career and under a brilliant spotlight, Derek conducts himself with class and a selfless demeanor that allows not only his teammates but also his sport and his community to flourish," McDonell continued. "It was his leadership both on and off the field that drove the Yankees to the world championship, and his Turn 2 Foundation is one of the most efficient and effective foundations of its kind. It is an honor to include Derek Jeter in the Sportsman fraternity."
Jeter's selection caps another outstanding season for the 35-year-old team captain and future Hall of Famer. In 2009 he batted .334 while leading the Yankees to their fifth World Series title in his 14 full seasons, their first since 2000 and their major league record 27th. On September 11, Jeter got his 2,722 hit, breaking Lou Gehrig's 70-year-old franchise record. Jeter now has 2,747. In 2009, Jeter led the American League by reaching base 289 times, finished second in the league in hits (212), third in batting average and on-base percentage (.406), fourth in runs (107), and eighth in stolen bases (30). He was named an All-Star for the 10th time, including the sixth time as a starter, while winning his fourth AL Silver Slugger as the best hitting shortstop in the league, and his fourth Gold Glove as the league's top defensive shortstop.
In 14 postseason games Jeter lived up to his reputation as a clutch player, batting .344 with a .432 on-base percentage, three home runs and six RBIs. He batted .407 in the World Series to help lead the Yankees to a six-game victory against the defending world champion Philadelphia Phillies. During the Series Jeter was named the American League recipient of the Hank Aaron Award, given to the best hitter in each league as voted on by the fans, and the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who best displays skill on the field while giving back to the community off it.
Jeter will be honored at a ceremony in Manhattan on December 1 along with SI Kids' SportsKid of the Year, Austin McCarthy. Sponsors for the Sportsman of the Year event include Ford, Gillette, Liberty Mutual and Verizon.
Jeter is the 10th baseball honoree and only the third in the last 34 years. Others players named Sportsman after great World Series-winning performances include Johnny Podres ('55), Sandy Koufax ('65), Tom Seaver ('69), Pete Rose ('75), Willie Stargell (along with Terry Bradshaw ['79]), Orel Hershiser ('88), Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson ('01) and the Boston Red Sox ('04).