Friday, January 05, 2007

Bye Bernie, Bye

October 1, 2006, Bernie Williams steps up to the plate pinch-hitting for Miguel Cairo and hit his 449th and possibly final career double in a 7-5 loss to the Blue Jays.

Williams had become the regular Yankees center fielder by 1993. Buck Showalter helped keep him with the Yankees through 1995, when George Steinbrenner sought to trade him. Steinbrenner was frustrated by the team's difficulty in placing him in any of the traditional baseball player molds. He had good speed, but rarely stole bases. In center, he was highly capable at tracking down fly balls and line drives, but had a weak throwing arm. He was a consistent hitter, but lacked home run power. Throughout the early 1990s he hit in the middle of the order as management tried to figure out where he fit in.

1995 was a breakout season for Williams. He hit 18 home runs and led the team in runs, hits, total bases and stolen bases.

In the 1996 American League Championship Series, Williams hit a memorable home run in Game 1 and went on to win the ALCS MVP award, and the Yankees subsequently won the World Series that year.

During the 1998 season, Williams finished with a .339 average, becoming the first player to win a batting title, Gold Glove award, and World Series ring in the same year.

After that season, Williams inked a 7-year, $85-million contract with the Yankees — the largest ever recorded for a Yankee center fielder.

The last year covered by his contract, 2005, proved to be a difficult one. He started 99 games in center field and 22 games as designated hitter, but his already weak arm was highlighted as his fielding and batting abilities considerably weakened. As expected, the Yankees announced on August 2, 2005, that they would not pick up the $15 million option on Williams' contract for the 2006 season, opting to pay a $3.5 million buyout instead. In December Williams was offered arbitration by team general manager Brian Cashman to allow an additional month for negotiation. On December 22, the Yankees re-signed Williams to a 1-year, $1.5 million contract.

Some interesting facts about Williams:

-Has worn only one number - #51 - since joining the Yankees as a rookie in 1991. He wore this number to show his hope that Puerto Rico would one day become the 51st state.

-Is the first player in MLB history to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in a postseason game.

-Owns "Corner Locker" in Yankee Stadium Clubhouse, given to the longest tenured player on the team.

*As of this posting, Williams has not officially retired from the Yankees organization. However, it is predicted.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 10:35 PM


  • Blogger James Willis posted at 2:57 PM  
    Hey there Yank just passing along some news...didn't know if you knew or not but here it is...more money to blowwwwwwwwwww....
  • Anonymous Anonymous posted at 1:49 PM  
    As an Orioles' fan down I-95 in Md., it will be shame if Bernie isn't on the team.

    He was a class act all the way, and when I saw him here in Baltimore, he was always gracious and he even let me take a photo with him.

    With time always comes change, but it's always different when it comes to someone whom you have enjoyed seeing.

    Anthony - The Oriole Post,
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