Did Derek Jeter ever play a game for the Fort Lauderdale Yankees?
In 1992, Upper Deck trading cards released a “1992 Draft Pick” insert card of young Derek Jeter making his famous jump-throw while wearing pinstripes. The back of the card has some bio information and features the logo of the Fort Lauderdale Yankees, a team identity that existed in the Florida State League from 1962-1992. Indeed, upon closer inspection of the front photo, Jeter is wearing the Fort Lauderdale cap with interlocking F and L, the same that Jeter’s buddy Mariano Rivera wore in 1992.
OK, what’s the big deal? Well, there is no record of Jeter ever playing for the Fort Lauderdale Yankees. This is the only image I have ever found with him wearing the FL cap. None of his baseball cards (stats on back) have ever listed Fort Lauderdale as one of his minor league stops. Most definitively, Baseball Reference does not have a record of him playing a single game for the FL Yankees. In fact, he didn’t hit the Florida State League until 1994, at which point New York was established with the Tampa Yankees.
So why does Jeter have a 1992 Fort Lauderdale Yankees card? Did he stop by Fort Lauderdale to practice with the FSL squad? Did he hang out with the team while they were playing an away game in the Tampa Bay area, while Jeter was in the Gulf Coast League? Did he just happen to be wearing a FL cap when Upper Deck photographers snapped the photo, and they slapped the logo on the back just because? Or did Jeter actually play a game or two in the Florida State League in 1992, and the record of it is lost to the ages? The world may never know.