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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Gary Denbo knew Jeter's swing better than anyone; Served as player, coach, in Jeter's front office

Heading into his fourth big league season, Derek Jeter needed to work on his hitting and for that he turned to Yankees minor league hitting coordinator Gary Denbo, Newsday wrote.

Due to that work, Jeter "showed more of a power stroke" that spring Newsday wrote.

"Jeter said that Denbo 'knows his swing better than anybody' and has helped him pull inside pitches rather than punch them to the opposite field," Newsday wrote that March.

Denbo knew Jeter from Jeter's time in the minors. Denbo had managed Jeter across two minor league seasons. Denbo later followed Jeter to the majors as Yankees hitting coach in 2001 - and then to the Marlins during Jeter's post-playing career as a team executive.

Earlier, Denbo served as a player himself. Denbo's playing career lasted four seasons, before making way for his minor league managing and coaching career.

Denbo's career in baseball began in 1983, taken by the Reds in the 17th round of the draft out of Oakland City University.

Denbo started with the Reds at rookie Billings. He then played two seasons at single-A Cedar Rapids and his final season, 1986, at AA Vermont. 

By 1988, Denbo was back at Cedar Rapids as hitting coach. By 1989, he'd arrived with the Yankees as manager at single-A Greensboro. He then managed at high-A Prince William in 1990, Greensboro in 1993 and served as hitting coach at AA Norwich in 1996.

In 2001, he arrived in the Bronx as hitting coach for the Yankees.

In a June 2001 Tampa Tribune article on Denbo, Jeter again gave Denbo praise. Teammate Tino Martinez, too.

"He's great. He works hard," Martinez told The Tribune. "He's not afraid to take you to the cage and work with you for hours if he has to. But he's learning along with us as we go along."

Denbo is credited with just that one season as Yankees hitting coach. Later, in 2008, he's credited as hitting coach with the Blue Jays. 

In 2014, he became the Yankess' VP of player development. Then, in 2017, Denbo joined then-Marlins CEO Jeter in Miami as the team's VP of scouting and player development. The New York Post even called Denbo Jeter's "lieutenant."

"We developed a great relationship from a coach-player standpoint over 20-plus years," Denbo told The Post in spring 2018 of Jeter. "I felt like when he asked me to come here and help him with this organization, I could probably never go into a better opportunity than this."

Jeter left the Marlins in February 2022 and Denbo followed in June 2022.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,084
Made the Majors:1,354-33.2%-X
Never Made Majors:2,730-66.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:551
10+ Seasons in the Minors:334

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