Monday, February 7, 2011

Bernie's day should come soon

Bernie Williams showed up, a little late of course, last week to watch his pal Andy Pettitte get the send off that he never got from the New York Yankees. But no worries, that day should come soon.

Bernie's #51 would have been retired and his plaque put up in Monument Park already if he had officially retired from baseball, which he has yet to do but seems like he is leaning toward this year. Aside from playing for the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic in 2009, Bernie has been completely focused on his music to great results, including a Latin Grammy nomination. So he's one of those uniquely talented people who have been successful in two completely different careers.

The centerfielder had a wonderful career with the Yankees that ended with a .297 batting average, 287 home runs, 1,257 runs batted in, one batting title, four Gold Gloves and, most importantly, four World Series championships. There were hard feelings for a few years after the ugly spat between Williams and the Yankees (more specifically, Brian Cashman), but that seems to be a thing of the past. Bernie has been invited to several events at Yankee Stadium for musical performances and ceremonial first pitches. I’m sure the Yankees would love to have a day for Bernie at the new stadium soon.

Bernie will be eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame next year. I don't think he will make it, but I expect a solid showing in the vote as Bernie was a key member of the late 1990s Yankee dynasty (and really the first home-grown Yankee to make a strong contribution to the team in years). But his numbers have definitely earned him a place in Monument Park, where he will be lovingly remembered along with all the other great Yankees.

If such a ceremony happens this year, I will go out of my way to be there. Bernie was always a favorite of mine because he was such a good guy and a great player and a hero to us Puerto Ricans. I admire that even now he is still trying to give back to the Latino community in every way possible. To achieve the level of success Bernie has in two careers and still be so humble and thoughtful is inspiring and I can’t wait to celebrate his accomplishments.

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