ESPN’s Buster Olney Tells Us His Unforgettable Derek Jeter Stories
"The most boring player I've ever interacted with, was Derek Jeter. And I told him that."
Few people can say that sentence, and be 100% serious in doing so, but that's exactly what ESPN's Buster Olney said to us when we talked to him earlier today. Olney joined The Drive for his weekly visit to the show, and spoke at length about The Captain, Derek Jeter. He remarked about the ceremony itself, commenting on how the crowd may not have been as massive as it might've been had COVID-19 not been a factor. He also mused about the one writer who left Jeter off of their Hall of Fame ballot, and how Jeter chose to shout that person out in his speech.
After his reactions to the ceremony, however, he told us a few stories about memorable interactions he's had with Jeter over both of their careers. Some of the tales are as good as it gets.
Olney's first story was the one that I teased above. He remarked that in journalism classes in which he spoke, he would always tell the students that Derek Jeter was the most boring interview subject that he had worked with. When you consider Jeter's reputation as a leader, but not a pot-stirrer, it makes sense. Olney told us that Jeter would go out of his way to avoid putting any unnecessary attention on himself, and would always put the team ahead of himself in his answers. He even told us that he told Jeter this, which caused Derek to look back at him with a look of surprise. That being said, he understood where Buster Olney was coming from.
He also recounted a story relating to 9/11, a morose day which happened 20 years ago this coming Saturday. He talked about the daughter of one of the pilots whose plane tragically crashed into the Twin Towers, and how she came to Yankee Stadium later that year. In an effort led by Jeter, she was given a queen's treatment, awarded with memorabilia, pictures and hugs from her favorite players. Nearly a decade later, when Olney caught up with her, she claimed that that was the best day of her life. Any sports fan would have to agree with that.
I try not to sound heavy-handed when I say this: our conversation with Buster Olney today was one of my favorite interviews of which I've been a part. The stories we heard from him today, and the heartfelt nature in which he spoke about Jeter, and reminisced about his experiences around September 11th, truly moved me. The audio is above, and I hope you'll give it a read.