The New York Times had an interesting article in Tuesday’s edition by Richard Sandomir which detailed all of the various merchandising opportunities that surround Derek Jeter and his historic 3,000th hit. I touched on this around Thanksgiving of last year, during which the Jeter contract debate was still ongoing, notating that there was a ton of t-shirt money to be made on this event. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not in the merchandising industry, because I missed a few options – like naming the event "DJ 3K." That didn’t occur to me.
I was thinking that Jeter was worth more than his on the field value to the team has a business entity because there was money to be made by the Yankees off the 3000th hit – not just ticket sales, but merchandising, and wow. I’ll try to condense the enormity of this:
- five gallons of dirt from the batter’s box, to be parceled off…
- five gallons of dirt from the shortstop’s patch, to be parceled off…
According to the NY Times, the dirt will be sold as follows:
1. poured into capsules to dangle on key chains
2. ladled into disks to be framed with photographs of the hit (in what is called a dirt collage)
3. glued into the interlocking NY carved into commemorative bats
Wow. As for me, I really need a key chain filled with dirt from the park where Derek Jeter hit his 3000th hit. But, let’s see what else we can grab…
9. cellphone skins
10. wall murals
14. license plates
19. travel mugs
The license plates caught my eye right away! When I drive my extremely sexy Ford Taurus (celebrating it’s 10th birthday fairly soon…) down the road, I need people to know that Derek Jeter got his 3000th hit via vanity license plate… Even I’m not that big of a Yankees fan. (Although if someone made a subtle decal featuring an interlocking Yankees NY with the number 51 on it… yeah, I would probably buy that.) The Modell’s in Times Square is going to stay open until at least midnight on the day Jeter gets the hit, because I know that as soon as he gets the hit, I gotta go to Mos and get merchandise. That’s what everyone is think… "Damn it, I wish Jeter would get his hit so I can go buy the t-shirt!" I’m not saying no one wants this stuff, but the idea that we’re all bursting, in fact almost begging to take part in Jeter’s accomplishment via merchandise and we need to do so the instant it happens is a bit crazy. Just a bit. So we’re up to 21 items so far… The Times says Jeter "has designated proceeds from the sale of a silicone bracelet to benefit his Turn 2 Foundation." Hmm, are bracelets even on the list? I see necklaces…
Jeter can also decide if he wants to sell his:
25. batting gloves
Since those are his property, he can do what he wants with these items. However, items belonging to the Yankees that are under their control that will be for sale include:
27. warm-up jackets
29. the bases
30. the pitching rubber
Imagine it’s 10 years in the future in you’re in the house of wealthy local Wall Street trader… Let’s call him Louis Winthorpe III. He takes you into his study and shows you a base encased in glass. Louis explains, "This was the third base that was on the field when Derek Jeter got his 3000th hit… it was a single to right, very Jeterian. There were already two outs, and the next guy up struck out, so he never got over there… but hey, it was on the field while he was waving to the crowd. He probably looked at it!"
Best quote ever:
Jeter will probably ask to keep things — perhaps the most valuable items like the 3,000th hit ball — for himself.
“When the time comes,” said the Yankees’ president, Randy Levine, “we’ll sit down with Derek and his representatives and reach a mutual accommodation that’s good for everybody.”
Really? They have to sit down and talk about who can keep the ball? Heading back to Withorpe’s house in the future, he shows you that he purchased, "jersey, batting gloves and cleats Jeter wore when he got his 2,994th hit." You stare at him blankly. You remember… hit 2,996! That’s was the one when… you know… hit the ball… with the bat… ran out of the batter’s box… and so on…"
One more quote from the article:
Smith, the M.L.B. executive, said Jeter approached the marketing with some trepidation, fearing that it might seem all too much. Smith said that during a recent meeting with Jeter and his agent, Casey Close, “I explained how appropriate it was for us to market these products. And Derek is like, ’I don’t want to take the limelight’; he felt weird about it. I said, ’It’s appropriate to be recognized; you’re a generational athlete.’ “
I’m not saying its wrong to market DJ 3K (wow, that iscatchy), and I’m not saying Jeter isn’t a generational athlete – but I can’t image saying that to anyone’s face. Can you imagine what it must be like to have someone say something like that to you? What the hell are you supposed to say. "Uh, thank; I appreciate that." That is a weird thing to say to somebody in a marketing meeting. Of course, "Look, we need to make as much money as we can while we can," doesn’t sound nearly as good.
I guess this whole piece comes off as a bit anti-Jeter, and I’m not. He’s the Yankees hit leader, the first Yankee to ever get 3000 hits. Considering the Yankees history, that’s pretty unbelievable – and it’s not like Jeter didn’t earn it. Sure, maybe the pitcher’s mound is 6 inches lower than it used to be, and maybe ballpark outfield walls keep moving in a little closer, the ball seems to be wound a little tighter, and the DH helps wear out AL pitchers in a way that would probably make even Mickey Mantle blush – but nobody but Jeter has been able to do it so far. Even Bernie Williams never did it, and he was with the club forever.
So give Jeter his due – and if you want a wall mural, that’s available, too.