NEW YORK – Pedestrians craned their necks as Derek Jeter stood in front of a food truck parked across the street from Central Park.
As the New York Yankees captain winds down his baseball life, part of his attention already is turning to his future business career.
He announced the launch of Jeter Publishing, a partnership with Simon & Schuster, last November and became a partner and brand development officer of Luvo, a food company encouraging healthy nutrition that also struck an agreement with the Yankees. The 40-year-old posed for pictures with the company's first food truck Monday.
"You've got to get involved with things that mean something to you, like this here does," Jeter said. "I don't think you just attach your name to anything that's out there. It has to mean something."
As he's climbed the lists of Yankees career leaders, alongside Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle, Jeter has struck deals with national brands such as Gatorade, Movado, Nike's Brand Jordan, Rawlings and the memorabilia dealer Steiner Sports.
After the Yankees beat Baltimore in his final home opener, Jeter joked that he didn't have much hope of leaving the ballpark with any mementos.
"I'm good taking the win," he said, "but Steiner Sports has the rest."
As he shifts toward his retirement days, Jeter is likely to be turning more attention to his Turn 2 Foundation and do deals that made him a brand spokesman and give him equity,
Commercial ties for retired Yankees greats are hardly unprecedented. DiMaggio was the longtime face of Mr. Coffee and the Bowery Savings Bank, and Berra pitched the Yoo-hoo chocolate drink.
"There's things that I thought of, but still my number-one priority is to play right now. I'll have plenty of time to think about that when I'm finished," he said. "It's not immediate. I've been doing this for a long time, so when I'm finished, I want to take some time, where I don't have any schedule, and I can just sit around and enjoy myself. But, yeah, business ventures are important to me."
He's not sure how much time he will spend in New York — he'll be in the area some because his parents live in New Jersey and his sister and nephew are in the area. But he's already downsized his Big Apple holdings.
A trust controlled by Jeter sold his 5,425-square-foot apartment on the 70th floor of Trump World Tower on Manhattan's East Side in October 2012 for $15.5 million. His primary residence is set to be the 30,875-square foot house he had constructed on Davis Islands in Tampa, Florida, in 2010-11 that some have nicknamed "St. Jetersburg."
While he doesn't want to coach or manage, he's repeatedly said he would be interested in becoming a team owner, which would follow the path taken by retired NBA stars Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and by hockey great Wayne Gretzky — though Gretzky has coached, too.
"It's not immediate," Jeter said. "I don't really know about what kind of timetable it is."
Almost all his attention remains focused on playing. As the Yankees make their final trips to each city, Jeter is honored and presented with gifts. He was the focus of last week's All-Star game, when baseball Commissioner Bud Selig gushed "how lucky can this sport be to have the icon of this generation turn out to be Derek Jeter?" The Yankees said Friday they will honor him during a pregame ceremony on Sept. 7.
"Everyone likes to get gifts. You like when people say good things about you," Jeter said. "I don't expect it, but when you receive it, yeah, it makes you feel good."
After winning five World Series titles, Jeter would like to go out with another. The Yankees entered Monday night 50-47, uncertain whether they will make the postseason.
Jeter wouldn't say if failure to reach the playoffs would make his final season feel incomplete.
"If. If. If. You know I don't comment on ifs," he said. "My job is to play and make sure we get to where we want to get to, so I don't speculate."