New York Yankees: Bernie Williams Inducted Into Monument Park, as Bronx Bombers Retire #51.
I remember when Bernie Williams first came up. The Yankees were a shell of their former selves. The owner, George Steinbrenner, was suspended from the team. And, so Gene "Stick" Michael was free to rebuild the Yankees at his own discretion, direction and speed.
Bernie Williams was promoted to the big club nearly a full 5 years before the Core Four came into being, and boy was he raw - not necessarily with a bat (which was a troubling sight), but in patrolling the expansive Yankees Stadium center field.
After just a few minutes reinstated back into baseball, George Steinbrenner seemed to zero in on Bernie. There wasn't a day that passed in which the Boss didn't want Bernie traded. The brilliant Stick Michael kept stonewalling George (perhaps one of the few to possess the balls to do so...), and the Yankees wound up keeping the young Williams.
That said, the Core Four just might owe their existence to Bernie, as he was the Boss' first true exercise in (acute) benevolence and patience in the aftermath of Fay Vincent's suspension.
That said, not another word (from me) without expressing my dismay over the Core Four. The notion is a disservice to Bernie Williams, and quite honestly, it's disrespectful too. To me, it has always been the Core Five.
In the strike marred year of 1994, you could sense his game was finally coalescing. Then in 1995, Bernie arguably broke out. He slashed .307/.392/.487 with 18 home runs and 82 RBI.
From then on, Bernie Williams was the clean-up hitter for the most recent New York Yankees dynasty.
For 7 years spanning 1996-2002, Bernie Williams averaged .323, 25 HR, and 104 RBI per season. He appeared in 5 all-star games, won 4 gold gloves, a silver slugger award, and won the 1998 batting title.
Bernie Williams: Career Yankee
Games - 6th
Hits - 5th
Doubles - 3rd
Home Runs - 7th
RBI - 7th
Runs Scored - 6th
He was one of the finest ambassadors of Puerto Rico, ever.
To locals, he was a beloved, and an integral part of four Yankees championships. He was perhaps the most quiet and unassuming as well. The man never lacked class.., never. Outside of the city, there's a chance he'll go down as one of the greatest Yankees that people never heard of. Blame the Core Four, in a manner of speaking.
Not here though. New Yorkers will forever know who Bernie Williams was in a town where no one really cares to know your name.