September 23, 2014 / 7:20 PM / 3 years ago

Jeter appears poised for further riches in golden years

Sep 20, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Fans display signs for New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (not pictured) during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - When Derek Jeter brings the curtain down on a wondrous 20-year career following Major League Baseball's 2014 season, the New York Yankees captain will certainly not be walking off into the sunset.

For a player that has eclipsed over $265 million in career earnings while playing for MLB's most storied franchise, Jeter could grow even richer.

A bright future bursting with intriguing possibilities awaits the man New Yorkers know simply as "The Captain," who some marketing experts believe will remain the face of baseball even in retirement.

Jeter, one of North America's most recognizable athletes, could hit a home run by marketing his image to help broaden his product endorsements or becoming a television analyst.

About to take his place in the pantheon of Yankee greats alongside Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, Jeter will have no shortage of options as he enters the next phase of his life.

"He hasn't gotten married yet and had kids. Those are all different challenges that he's probably going to look forward to," said Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who took part in Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium earlier this month. "I've heard him talk about possibly owning a team.

"Financially he's put himself in a good position. His knowledge of the game is strong.

"He's going to sit down with his family and pick his next step and I promise you he's going to give it the same type of effort as he did for the game of baseball."

Valued at $2.5 billion by Forbes.com, the Yankees are the most valuable non-soccer franchise in the world and for nearly two decades Jeter has been the team's most important asset.

During an era tainted by steroids, labor strife and scandal, the 14-time All-Star shortstop always seemed above the fray.

'SQUEAKY CLEAN'

Beyond his all-round on-field ability, Jeter is admired for the way he played the game, the way he carried himself and the dignity with which he represented the sport.

As captain of one of the world's most famous sporting brands, Jeter managed to stay scandal-free despite playing in the glare of New York's unforgiving media spotlight, avoiding the troubles that stained notorious sluggers Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Yankees teammate Alex Rodriguez.

The qualities that made the shortstop a success on the field are also likely to serve him well as he begins his next chapter.

"He is well poised to be a product endorser for the years ahead" Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at Horizon Media, told Reuters. "The most compelling reason is the guy's squeaky clean lifestyle, very mainstream.

"He did it on the field, he was clutch, he won five (World Series) titles, played in the biggest market on the most storied franchise in sports, in the most glamorous position.

Sep 20, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (2) reaches on infield single to second during the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

"It is hard to think of anybody who has so many assets in his back pocket for product endorsements than Derek Jeter."

While Jeter's impressive portfolio of endorsements includes lucrative deals with Nike and Gatorade, he ranked only 35th on the Forbes list of the Top 100 earners in sport for 2014 with an income of $24.3 million, including a $9 million in endorsements.

As one of America's most popular sportsmen, the 40-year-old has not fully tapped his potential as product pitchman according to some marketing experts but the future Hall of Famer could explore more of these opportunities in retirement.

"A fabulous athlete, great citizen, stayed clean through all the controversies, played through the steroid era but in a way he has just kind of been doing it quietly," said George Belch, marketing professor at San Diego State University. "Everything about him for the most part has been first class.

"If you lined everything up one might say this is recipe for just a massive endorser but it just never seemed to play out for him.

"He has always been out there doing his job making the highlight reels but even at the height of his career he never really became a high profile endorser.

"He never became like a Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods."

OWNERSHIP INTEREST

Jeter, however, may follow the same path open to very few elite champions and become owner of a professional sports team like Jordan, owner of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, and former England soccer great David Beckham, who is seeking to put a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami.

Other than saying he is not interested in becoming a baseball manager, Jeter has offered few hints about his future plans but has repeatedly expressed interest in ownership.

How Jeter might achieve that goal has been open to speculation.

He could form and ownership/investment group or perhaps buy a small piece of the Yankees if the current owners are keen to keep "The Captain" as part of the Yankee family.

"It's time to do other things," said MLB's all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera, who along with Jeter, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte formed the Yankees' so-called 'Core Four' that won five World Series together.

"Derek says that he wants to own a team one day. I trust him and I believe that.

"He will. "One day he will own a baseball team - and me and Jorge and Andy will be part of that.

"He's a guy that always worked for everything that he believed and that’s why he is different."

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Additional reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Frank Pingue

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