Greensboro Hornets road jersey worn by future Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter during his first full season of professional baseball in 1993. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the earliest Derek Jeter professional jersey extant and it comes with the unique provenance of having been consigned directly by the managing partner of the Greensboro Hornets. In his accompanying one-page, typed-signed letter, on "The Greensboro Bats" letterhead, he details the jersey's history: In part:
The Greensboro Hornets Road Gray #31 is the jersey Derek Jeter wore in his entire first year full season in Greensboro in 1993. I was the managing partner for the the New York Yankees affiliate in Greensboro beginning in 1993 through 2003 and was responsible for retiring all the Yankees uniforms and equipment using the Hornets nickname as we changed the name of the team in 1994 to The Greensboro Bats (to avoid media confusion with the Charlotte Hornets NBA team). The Hornets went to the Championship in 1993 of the South Atlantic League and Derek had 590 plate appearances and stayed the entire season in Greensboro. When we cleaned out the locker rooms I separated jerseys from some of the players I thought would advance to MLB stature including Mariano Rivera, Matt Luke and several others that made the major leagues.
The gray knit jersey is lettered "Greensboro" on the front and features the number "31" on the reverse. All letters and numerals have been appliquéd in navy on white tackle twill. A "Wilson 36" tag appears in the collar. The jersey is original as issued, with no alterations, and displays moderate to heavy wear. Although Jeter's name does not appear in the jersey, the garment is accompanied by a 1993 program and roster insert that lists Derek Jeter as number "31." According to a July 5, 2018, article for the News and Record (Greensboro newspaper), reporter Jeff Mills quotes Derek Jeter explaining why he wore number "31." In part:
On the night the Greensboro Grasshoppers wore throwback Hornets jerseys, the last starting shortstop to wear a Hornets jersey to work every day is at First National Bank Field, watching intently from the upstairs seats outside Suite 202.“Coincidence, right?” Derek Jeter says, memories flooding back from that long-ago summer of 1993. “They look good, don’t they? We heard about the throwbacks today when we got into town. I always wore either 13 or 31 (in the minors). I always tried to get No. 13, because my dad wore 13 in college. So I always wanted 13, and if I couldn’t get it, I’d flip it to 31.” The records say Jeter wore jersey No. 31 here.
In addition to the aforementioned program and roster insert, the jersey is accompanied by a number of various souvenirs from the 1993 Hornets season saved by our consignor, including a ticket stub from the first home game of the 1993 season, a 1993 Hornets general admission ticket, a 1993 Hornets ticket brochure, a 1993 Hornets bumper sticker, and our consignor's 1993 business card.
Derek Jeter was selected by the New York Yankees with the sixth pick in the 1992 Major League Draft and he turned down a full scholarship to Michigan to sign with the Yankees after he graduated high school. Jeter's first season of professional baseball was spent mainly with the Yankees' entry in the Gulf Coast League, a rookie league with a shortened schedule. He ended the year by joining the Greensboro Hornets for 11 games at the close of the season. The following year, 1993, he played the entire season in Greensboro, where he batted a team-high .295 with 5 home runs and 71 RBI. Jeter appeared in 128 of the team's 141 games that season and while his hitting skills were readily apparent, his defense still needed work, as evidenced by his 56 errors at shortstop. It was during his time at Greensboro that the seeds of the Yankees' future World Championships were planted. In 1992 it was where he first met Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Shane Spencer. The following season he was joined by Mariano Rivera and Mike Buddie. Jeter never returned to Greensboro after the 1993 season and played only an additional two years in the minors before joining the Yankees as the club's starting shortstop in 1996. The rest, as they say, is history.
Derek Jeter is the greatest shortstop in New York Yankees history and one of the few players to be honored with the title of "Captain." During Jeter's celebrated twenty seasons in New York, the Yankees won eight pennants and six World Championships. Like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle before him, Jeter personifies the most recent Yankees dynasty, and it seems assured that he will soon join those other Yankees immortals in Cooperstown. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open).