Column: Derek Jeter’s success as MLB owner no sure thing

'Beyond the Lines'

Derek Jeter, Major League Baseball team owner. The title may not be as familiar as shortstop and captain of the New York Yankees, but after MLB owners approved his group’s offer to purchase the Miami Marlins, Jeter is now a part owner of the team.

During a Hall of Fame career spanning 20 years, Jeter was ultra-competitive and confident on the field. Those traits, along with an unmatched work ethic, made him a stalwart of the Yankees teams of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s that won five World Series titles.

Jeter’s confidence was never on display more than in 2004 when the Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez in a trade wia in that role. He was a superstar player with a clean public image, recognizable on and off the field to fans and non-fans alike, someone who could bring new, younger fans to the game.

However, rarely does an owner become the face of a franchise, drive interest in the team or sell tickets. Jeter may be an exception to the rule, as Michael Jordan has done, in part, with the Charlotte Hornets.

But the real question is whether Jeter’s past experiences on the baseball diamond will translate to the executive suite? The skill set required to be successful on the field – physical tools, instincts, competitiveness, confidence – won’t guarantee success off the field.

In his position as head of business and baseball operations for the Marlins, Jeter will be responsible for turning around a franchise that is swimming in debt and hasn’t finished with a winning record in nine years.

Communication, leadership, personal skills, and dealing with the media are skills Jeter will need in abundance. He was known for being a quiet leader as a teammate but that won’t suffice in his executive role. Jeter must supervise employees, delegate important tasks, make trades, and oversee the drafting, signing and development of players. In short, he must be a businessman, not a ballplayer.

Only time will tell if Jeter has the business acumen needed for the daunting task that lies before him. One thing is certain. Having the ability to hit .300 and excel in the baseball playoffs doesn’t necessarily translate into business success.

Jordan Kobritz is a former attorney, CPA, Minor League Baseball team owner and current investor in MiLB teams. He is a Professor in and Chair of the Sport Management Department at SUNY Cortland and maintains the blog: http://sportsbeyondthelines.com The opinions contained in this column are the author’s. Jordan can be reached at jordan.kobritz@cortland.edu.