"Where are my parents? Where are my parents?"
In and out of spikes, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter moves like silk billowed by a breeze. Goodness flows all around him. He's perpetually light on his feet, even as bedlam spills like the champagne in and around the dank hallways of Shea Stadium early last Friday in the afterglow of—goodness!—the Yankees' fourth world championship in Jeter's five full seasons in the big leagues. At 26, he has already been enriched with a lifetime's heaping portion of success.
" Mr. Jeter, this is the police commissioner. Would you like a picture [with him]?" asks a police officer outside the Yankees clubhouse, introducing Jeter to Bernard Kerik, the new commissioner of the New York City Police Department. The hallway is a gridlock of people. Jeter, the champagne still dripping from his uniform, flashes his golden grin, as if he is lit from within like a paper lantern.
"I've got a couple of parking tickets I'd like to talk to you about," Jeter says as he glides past the commish.
Smooth. Kerik laughs. "We'll talk," he says.
Jeter doesn't linger. "Where are my parents? Find out where they are," he says to a Yankees security official, who squawks into his radio to another official.
Every time Derek plays a baseball game attended by his parents, Charles and Dorothy of Kalamazoo, Mich., he must know where they are seated. Before the first ball is put into play, he catches their gaze and gives them a wave of his hand. He must know where they are after the game, too. On this night, before the Yankees' 4-2 Game 5 victory that clinched the World Series, Jeter found them in their distant seats high above third base. Afterward, in the madness, he cannot locate them. Then the radio answers, "Right by me. On the field."
Jeter skips along the creaky wooden runway that leads through the darkness under Shea's field-level seats to the dugout. To no one in particular he says aloud with a sigh, "Oh, man. If we'd lost this, I was moving out of town. Gone!" He bolts up the dugout steps, where he finds his parents standing on the warning track. He gives them each a kiss and a long, tight hug.
"MVP! MVP!" A large knot of fans behind the Yankees dugout begins serenading him with the latest of his many honorifics. Jeter had at least one crucial hit or play in each of the Yankees' four wins in their defeat of their crosstown rivals, the Mets, earning himself the World Series MVP award. It will make a nice bookend to his All-Star Game MVP award. No other player has ever won both awards in the same season.
Jeter tosses several championship caps into the crowd. Then he dashes back toward the clubhouse, heaving his Jersey for safekeeping at a friend in the corridor. He will give it to his mother as a gift.