Yankees legend Bernie Williams spoke to Adam Weinrib and Thomas Carannante courtesy of the Breathless Campaign to raise awareness about Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Please visit LungsAndYou.com to learn more about the disease and Bernie’s story.
For Yankees switch-hitting sensation Bernie Williams, eventually gaining induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame would be icing on the cake of a tremendous career — something he made abundantly clear while discussing the possibility on this week’s Yanks Go Yard Podcast.
Williams’ career falls directly into an interesting window in MLB history. Active from 1991-2006 at the big-league level, his era’s headlines were dominated by big-chested sluggers and powerful names who’ve mostly been kept on the outside looking in at the Hall.
On a more literal level, though, his era was actually dominated by … the New York Yankees. Without flash or supposed superstar talent, Williams’ Yankees built a dynasty that he helped power, racking up four World Series and two additional AL pennants from 1996-2003.
Though Williams didn’t attain Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera’s level of notoriety nationwide, he was still an astoundingly important contributor to those dominant teams, making five straight All-Star teams from 1997-2001, finishing top 10 in MVP twice (1998, 2002) and adding countless playoff moments to the franchise’s rafters.
The story of the ’90s Yankees cannot be written without Williams — from either side of the plate — yet, much like his teammate Jorge Posada and ’90s Cleveland star Kenny Lofton, his Hall of Fame case has lagged behind the numbers and narrative arguments thus far.
If you ask Williams about his place in the era, it’s clear he’s more than satisfied with his body of work, regardless of next steps. As he should be.
Yankees legend Bernie Williams considers Hall of Fame chances ‘icing’
According to the humble Williams, “It’s really cool that I am in those conversations when they talk about people who were not linked at all with PEDs. I think I was blessed to have a great team. And if you look at my numbers on any other team, they would be kind of normal … but the fact that I was able to contribute in a good way to that run that we had kind of puts me on the map.”
If the author may interject now … Williams certainly sold himself short a bit by identifying himself only as a contributor. He led the league in hitting (.339) in 1998, then finished in the top four three other times. He spent six seasons in the top-10 in terms of Championship Probability Added, including a league-leading 2002 season where he did everything he could to advance the Bombers past the Angels. Essentially, Williams spent a half-decade with the most dominant team in baseball ranking among the top players in all of baseball with the ability to influence that season’s championship ending.
The moments, in that instance, can do the talking.
According to the Hall of Fame Monitor, Williams is 34 points above the threshold for a “Likely Hall of Famer”.
It may never happen, or the election may take quite a while, something the proud and clean Williams seems content to accept. His Cooperstown case does deserve to be revisited, though (as does Lofton’s, and Posada’s…), and when his peers transition to the Veterans Committee, they’ll almost certainly have a chance to give the legendary No. 51 his career-capping cake topper.