GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Derek Jeter Interview

We talk realism, Red Sox, and baseball video games in our one-on-one interview with the Yankee shortstop.


It's hard to believe that Derek Jeter has been in the Major Leagues for 10 years now. He still has that fresh-faced attitude that continues to make him the apple of the Big Apple's eye; he still attacks the game of baseball and the shortstop position with as much athletic fervor as ever; and he's coming off one of his better seasons in recent memory. Though things haven't been going the Yankees' way for the past few years, their star player seems to be playing with as much confidence as ever.

We recently had a chance to steal a few moments of Jeter's time (as he relaxed after a taping of Fox Sports' The Best Damn Sports Show Period) to get his take on today's baseball video games, on how his sport translates to the gaming world, on what he really thinks of the Red Sox' 2004 World Series win, and on whether or not the virtual Jeter plays as well as the real-life version.

Did you play games as a kid?
As a kid, I was addicted to Ms. Pac-Man--there wasn't a lot of the sports video games, you know--some of the early games that came out. Nowadays, the video games have gone to a whole other level in terms of their realism. It's like you're watching TV and playing along with an actual game, in terms of the graphics and the mannerisms of the players.

Derek Jeter is entering his eleventh year in the MLB, all of it spent in Yankees pinstripes.
Derek Jeter is entering his eleventh year in the MLB, all of it spent in Yankees pinstripes.

This isn't the first baseball game for which you've appeared as a cover star. How did your involvement with Take-Two and Major League Baseball 2K5 evolve? Was it something you were actively looking to do, or did it sort of fall in your lap?
I figure it's probably a combination of the two. I've been a part of the video game industry for a while now, and it's an honor to be the cover boy, so to speak, for this game.

Can you tell us about how you contributed to the development of MLB 2K5?
The input that I've had, you know, is [the developers] have asked a lot of questions in terms of how [they] can make the game seem more real in terms of not only the mannerisms but what you pay attention to as a player, the minor details... Me, for example, I'm really into baserunning and paying attention to detail, and those are some of the things that you can incorporate into a video game that makes it more real for the fan.

How do video games do in terms of portraying the real-life game from a defensive standpoint, particularly your position of shortstop? Is there anything in particular that video games get right, and is there anything that video games maybe don't portray accurately?
Well, I think defensively [games] do probably as good as you can get in terms of the things that you can pay attention [to, such as] a player's arm strength, things like that. How quickly they can turn double plays...and range and that sort of thing. They've gotten pretty much as close as you can get to being the real thing.

Jeter at a Glance

  • Age:
  • Birthplace:
    Pequannock, NJ
  • Career Batting Average:
  • Career Home Runs:
  • Career RBIs:
  • Last DVD Watched:
    King Arthur
  • Listening to:
    Hip hop/R&B -- Jay-Z, 50 Cent
  • Consoles owned:
    PlayStation 2
  • Games playing:
    MLB 2K5 (of course)

Some people feel that baseball as a sport is a bit too slow to make for a good video game experience. How do you feel baseball translates to video games?
I don't think the game is too slow. It's one of the few games that there's no clock and there's no time limit. These other sports, there's a certain amount of time that you play, and I think that's one of the good things about baseball; it can go on as long or short [as necessary], depending on how good the two teams are. I think that's a good thing for gamers as well. You know, if you've got two quality people that are playing each other, the game will probably be a little shorter than otherwise. So I think that's one of the realistic things that comes along with the game.

OK, let's talk about the Derek Jeter in MLB 2K5. Is he underrated, overrated, or just right?

Which specific areas do you feel he's underrated in?
All of them! They need to pump it up a bit.

Just tell them to pump everything up by 10 points, and then you're set.
I'm trying to work on that right now.

Moving over to the offensive side of the ball... In baseball video games, you're generally swinging the bat with a press of the button, which is pretty different from actually being in the batter's box. There is a pretty wide gap in skill between actually hitting a major league baseball pitch and doing it in a video game.
In real baseball you have, what, less than a second to decide whether or not you're going to swing, but in these video games it's pretty close. You may have a little bit more time, but a lot of people who play the game say, "Oh you don't have enough time to recognize the pitch," but that's how it is in real life. So there's a correlation between the video game and real-life baseball.

Since you're on the cover of the game, what do you tell your teammates about MLB 2K5?
I'm not going to tell them anything until I get good at it!

If Jeter has anything to say about it, last year's Red Sox World Series win was the final one on his watch.
If Jeter has anything to say about it, last year's Red Sox World Series win was the final one on his watch.

Do you get into the financial side of baseball, the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes?
No question. I'd like to be an owner one day, so I pay a lot of attention to that.

The general perception of the Yankees' clubhouse seems to be that it's a very professional place. Are there gamers on the team?
I think the kids more so--the kids of the players that come in after the game. They're always running the video game machines, and they're by far better than any of us.

Obviously it came at the expense of Yankees fans, but last year's Red Sox World Series win was a pretty incredible moment in the history of baseball. Can you talk about that a bit?
Oh yeah it was great for baseball, Boston winning last year. Now you don't really believe that, do you? No, I mean, it was good for Red Sox fans because obviously they've been waiting a long time for it, but I'd be lying if I said I thought it was good for the game.

Once is enough, right?
Once is too much. But if they have it once, that's enough for now.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are no comments about this story