CINCINNATI, June 3 (UPI) -- New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter, a key member of a team that has reached the postseason each of the last eight seasons, Tuesday was named the 11th captain in club history.
In a news conference at Great American Ball Park, where the Yankees begin a three-game interleague series with the Cincinnati Reds, Jeter had the honor bestowed upon him by owner George Steinbrenner, who was not in attendance.
"I have always been very, very careful about giving such a responsibility to one of my players," Steinbrenner said in a statement. "But I can't think of a single player that I have ever had who is more deserving of this honor than Derek Jeter."
Jeter is the Yankees' first captain since Don Mattingly, who served in the role over his final five years in the major leagues (1991-95).
The first captain in team history was Hal Chase (1912). The others were Roger Peckinpaugh (1914-21), Graig Nettles (1982-84), Willie Randolph and Ron Guidry. Randolph and Guidry were co-captains from 1986-89.
"In their first 100 seasons, the New York Yankees had only 10 team captains," General Manager Brian Cashman said. "Derek Jeter has no doubt demonstrated that he is uniquely qualified to be our first captain since Don Mattingly and the first of our second century."
The announcement comes during a tough time for the Yankees, the most successful franchise in baseball history. They have made the postseason each year since 1996 but have lost 17 of their last 27 games.
New York leads Boston by 1 1/2 games in the American League East.
Jeter has been a rock for the Yankees, helping them to World Series titles in 1996 and 1998-2000. His spectacular defensive play against Oakland helped New York advance to the 2001 Fall Classic vs. Arizona.
The 2003 season got off to a shaky start for Jeter, who dislocated his shoulder on Opening Day and missed six weeks. He is batting .298 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 19 games.
The 1996 American League Rookie of the Year, Jeter has been named to each of the last five AL All-Star teams. He also was voted World Series and All-Star MVP in 2000.
Although he has been criticized for his lack of power, Jeter entered the season with a .317 career batting average, 117 homers, 563 RBI and 167 stolen bases.
Jeter turns 29 later this month.