21 Dec Bernie Williams: The Forgotten Star To A Dynasty
By: Corey Michael Reighn
Somewhere around 2009, media and fans alike, around Yankee land, started using the term, core four. Regarding Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite and Jorge Posada. I couldn’t dispute their greatness. I grew up idolizing all four of them. All homegrown Yankees. Who shared world series glory with one another. Who also had the all-star talent to back it up.
Then I got to thinking about the Torre years. Or even before Torre. How the seeds of that dynasty were planted early. One guy came to mind. It took a team to produce four titles in five years. But there was a godfather to the prospects. The homegrown Yankee that initiated the influx of homegrown call ups. That would lead to greatness. His name was Bernie Williams. Bernie came up in the early 90s, the team was bad. Donnie baseball was past his prime and Bernie had to endure his own growing pains. Some scouts said he was too skinny. Good speed but never would hit for power. Gene Michael and company stuck with him.
A few years later, the Yankees traded for Paul O’Neill. And the team was showing signs of glory. Wade Boggs had also come aboard. By 1994, the Yankees turned into the best team in the league. Unfortunately the baseball strike had reared it’s ugly head. And the squad could never test their championship resolve. As we moved closer to 95, and the infamous series with Seattle, Bernie started to blossom into the player most didn’t think he could become. He was the centerfielder for the New York Yankees. A prestigious position. Joe D, The Mick and so on. It is in my opinion, Bernie was the best player on the dynasty teams. A switch hitter with power and grace. Speed on the bases and a great glove to accompany that. Not only was he great overall, but he was the most clutch Yankee during the run as well. In the 96 division series, Bernie clubbed 5 homers. As well as hitting .474 that same year in the ALCS (MVP honors). Not to mention, he was recently beginning a run where he hit .300 for 8 straight seasons.
The Yankees were champions for the first time in 18 years. Their quiet superstar, gracefully grabbed the bull by the horns. Who would’ve thought the run that would follow. That’s why it bothers me when people leave Bernie out. Not because those other guys aren’t amazing, iconic players. But because Bernie did it excellently and he can’t be forgotten. The man who paved the way for Jeter and company to believe they could be Yankees. The legend who did it his way.