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Reynolds goes one-on-one with Jeter02/01/2008 1:05 PM ET
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Derek Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation is so successful these days that it's almost tough to remember its humble roots. But MLB.com's Harold Reynolds remembers, and he brought it up to the All-Star Yankees shortstop in a recent exclusive one-on-one chat that occurred in the midst of the foundation's charity celebrity golf tournament weekend in Tampa, Fla.
"Well, it's gone from me being an A-list celebrity to where you've got Morgan Freeman," Reynolds said, to which Jeter replied, "You were the draw early on, H. Now you're the mediator."
Jeter, who started the foundation in 1996 to enhance awareness about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and has seen it award over $8 million to young people in the last 12 years. It's quite an accomplishment for what started as a modest idea in Jeter's hometown of Kalamazoo, Mich.
Jeter told Reynolds that another great Yankee player was the inspiration for the foundation.
"It comes from Dave Winfield," Jeter said. "I'm a big Dave Winfield fan, and I'm sure people have heard the story that he was one of the first athletes to have his own foundation. I was a big admirer of his when I was younger, and I wanted to do the same if and when I made it.
"And my dad is a drug-and-alcohol-abuse counselor, and this is something that I think hits every family, regardless of your race (or) how much money your family makes -- it's an issue that everyone has to deal with. And we thought it was fitting to start the foundation after my first year, and here we are 12 years later."
Jeter's charity weekend included a launch party on a big yacht with music from John Legend, a silent auction and the golf tournament. Oscar winner Freeman showed up along with some baseball stars and even Jeter's former bench coach and buddy for life, the irrepressible Don Zimmer.
In fact, when asked by Reynolds how he gets all these big names to continue to turn up at Turn 2 events, Jeter smiled.
"It's been fairly easy, with the exception of Zimmer," Jeter quipped. "Everyone else, I just call them and they come. (With) Zim, you gotta send cars, you gotta pay him a little appearance fee and things like that."
Going along with the joke, Reynolds added, "Well, he has been in baseball 50 years," and Jeter, with a deadpan look on his face, retorted, "So he's a little big-time now."
But the talk turned serious, as it often does when discussing the ways Jeter's foundation is helping young people, and the man who continues to be one of the most popular athletes in all of sports admitted that it's all been a whirlwind of support and hard work by his family, including full-time organizer Sharlee Jeter, Derek's sister, that has made Turn 2 such a success.
Derek said he loves being personally involved with the charity because of the ever-gratifying interaction with young people.
"A lot of athletes do great things," he said. "They give money to charity, and I think that's incredible. I wanted to be a little bit more hands-on, where I could get an opportunity to meet some of the kids, hear some of their stories, see their faces and hear from their parents. And that's one of the things I've been able to do with the foundation."
Jeter recalled visiting a Little League team that had lost every game and hadn't scored a run. Not surprisingly, when Jeter showed up, the hapless nine finally pushed a run across home plate.
"These kids were so happy," Jeter said with a smile. "They still got killed, but they were so happy that they scored their first run. And to see their faces, it makes everything worthwhile."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.