Procrastination leads to contemplation. An abeyance of structure creates soul-searching, while figuring out the next chapter in one’s life. For the past eight years, former Yankees centerfielder Bernie Williams wrestled with those feelings and future aspirations, waiting for the right moment to file his baseball retirement papers.
This Friday the Yankees will make things official. Williams will formally close the book on his career at a press conference at Yankee Stadium, prior to the 7:05 PM contest against the crosstown rival New York Mets. Williams will then throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 22, 2015
Williams spent sixteen seasons in the Bronx from 1991 through 2006. From the end of the Stump Merrill era to the Joe Torre era, Williams became a mainstay with the Yankees and one of the team’s most indispensable players.
During his tenure with the Yankees, Williams won four consecutive gold gloves, the 1998 American League batting title, and most importantly, four World Series championships in 1996, ‘98, ‘99, and 2000.
As a member of twelve playoff teams, Williams became best known for his postseason heroics, finishing third in games played and second in runs scored, hits, and total bases, while setting the current mark for runs batted in with 81. Williams completed his career with a total of 49.4 wins above replacement coupled with a career .297 average, 287 home runs and 1257 RBI.
After his playing days were complete, Williams became an accomplished musician, signing with MPL Communications and writing two albums. Williams briefly returned to the baseball diamond in 2009, representing his home country of Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, before exiting the baseball spotlight.
The Yankees will unveil a logo dedicated to Williams retirement during Friday’s press conference and plan to retire his number 51 jersey at a ceremony on Sunday, May 24 before the Yankees face the Texas Rangers, along with a plaque in Monument Park.
The commemoration of Williams’ Yankees career comes full circle three decades after he signed with the team as a sixteen-year-old free agent out of Puerto Rico back in 1985, before embarking on a celebrated career in pinstripes, playing one of the most celebrated positions in American sports.