When Derek Jeter arrived in the major leagues in 1995, the soon-to-be superstar displayed an innate modesty and reverence for the sport. That season Jeter had the good fortune of playing alongside pinstriped legend Don Mattingly. Jeter has often mentioned the simple lessons he learned from Mattingly about how to treat the game with respect and dignity and to always treat the fans with gratitude.
The other former Yankee the future Hall of Fame shortstop often cites as a role model is Dave Winfield, whom Jeter idolized as a child for his extraordinary athleticism and community involvement. There exists a clear line from childhood worship to mimicking the accomplishments of a hero to becoming the teammate of that hero and then, completing the cycle, fulfilling the role of role model. It is a unique aspect of baseball that, because of the relative longevity of careers, it allows a seamless and organic passing of the torch. There's a constant multigenerational overlap in baseball absent in other sports.