HIS 17-GAME HITTING STREAK—THE longest by a New York Yankee rookie since Joe DiMaggio's in 1936—made shortstop Derek Jeter a major player in the team's 1996 World Series win. Fine. But those weren't batting stats on the placards being held aloft by female fans during the celebratory ticker tape parade; they were marriage proposals. And they keep coming. When Jeter appeared at a Yankee fan fest this winter, "there was literally yelling and screaming and teenage girls crying," says teammate David Cone. Jeter, 22, tries to brush off the attention. "I'm the youngest on the team, and almost everyone else is married," he demurs. "And there's a mystique about me because people don't know what I am—black, white, Italian, Jewish. I can relate to a lot of people." But back in Kalamazoo, Mich., his drug counselor father, Charles, who is black, and accountant mother, Dorothy, who is white, admit their 6'3" son was a hit even in high school. "Girls would call here all the time," says Dorothy. Now Jeter might take the call. "I need a girlfriend," he says, discounting links to model Tyra Banks
, whom he (and his dad) once sat next to at a New York Knicks game. "I told her, 'We'll be in the papers for this,' " he recalls. "But there could be worse rumors."