The New York Yankees community suffered a loss on Tuesday after learning former outfielder Gerald Williams had passed away following a battle with cancer.
Williams was only 55 years old and his longtime close friend Derek Jeter delivered the sad news via The Players’ Tribune. The two players shared a bond beginning with their days in the Yankees’ minor league system up until Williams’ untimely passing.
After parts of 14 years in Major League Baseball, Williams called it quits after the 2005 season, which featured a short stint with the New York Mets. Back in 1987, he was drafted in the 14th round by the Yankees and remained with the organization until he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1996.
Williams spent the first five years of his career in the Bronx, finishing with a .241/.298/.420 slash line and 125 runs scored, 18 homers, 85 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 384 games.
He ended up bouncing around the league after that, making stops with the Atlanta Braves (two years), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (two years), Florida Marlins (one year), Yankees (two more years) and Mets (two years).
His best campaigns, by far, came in 1998 and 1999 with the Braves, when they fell short of the World Series in ’98 and then lost to the Bombers in the Fall Classic in ’99.
Derek Jeter announced the passing of former Yankees outfielder Gerald Williams.
Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay told the story of how Jeter and Williams became friends during their early playing days while calling a Yankees-Marlins game not too long ago. Jeter was being bullied in the low level of the minor leagues and Williams stepped in to defend Jeter, which blossomed into a friendship that lasted 30 years.
That was obviously an instrumental part of Jeter’s career because he was able to rid himself of a distraction while forging a bond with someone who he’d play almost two full seasons with at the big league level.
Williams is best known for his play (with the Yankees) against the Mariners where he robbed Alex Rodriguez (!) of extra bases to preserve Doc Gooden’s no-hitter as well as the time he charged the mound (with the Devil Rays) on Pedro Martinez and clocked him in the face with a right hand before the benches cleared.
While his career didn’t offer any Hall of Fame stats or countless inimitable moments, Williams played the sport he loved for 14 years (1992-2005) and made personal impacts along the way. When a first-ballot Hall of Famer and legend of the game is making note of that, you know how influential it really was.