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Bernie Williams

Bernabé "Bernie" Williams Figueroa (born September 13, 1968 in San Juan, Puerto Rico) is an outfielder for the New York Yankees and guitar-playing jazz recording artist. A switch hitter, Williams has played his entire career (1991-present) with the New York Yankees. He is Major League Baseball's all-time leader in postseason home runs (22) and runs batted in (80). With 446, he trails only Lou Gehrig's 534 for lifetime doubles as a Yankee. Currently a free agent[1], he has played all outfield positions for the Yankees and acted as the team's designated hitter. In 2006, Williams saw a good amount of playing time in the corner outfield spots with both Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield out with wrist injuries and did spot duty in center field on days when starting center fielder Johnny Damon was given off for rest. Because of the injuries to Matsui and Sheffield, Williams played more than was expected when he signed his one-year extension with the Yankees in 2006.
Williams had become the regular Yankees center fielder by 1993. The management of Buck Showalter helped keep him with the Yankees through 1995, when George Steinbrenner sought to trade him. Steinbrenner was frustrated by the team's difficulty in placing him in any of the traditional baseball player molds. He had good speed, but rarely stole bases. In center, he was highly capable at tracking down fly balls and line drives, but had a weak throwing arm. He was a consistent hitter, but lacked home run power. Throughout the early 1990s he hit in the middle of the order as management tried to figure out where he fit in. 1995 was a breakout season for Williams. He hit 18 home runs and led the team in runs, hits, total bases and stolen bases. In the 1996 American League Championship Series, Williams hit a memorable home run in Game 1 and went on to win the ALCS MVP award, and the Yankees subsequently won the World Series that year. During the 1998 season, Williams finished with a .339 average, becoming the first player to win a batting title, Gold Glove award, and World Series ring in the same year.
After that season, Williams inked a seven-year, $85-million contract with the Yankees — the largest contract ever recorded for a Yankee center fielder. The last year covered by his contract, 2005, proved to be a difficult one. He started 99 games in center field and 22 games as a designated hitter, but his already weak arm was highlighted as his fielding and batting abilities considerably weakened. As expected, the Yankees announced on August 2, 2005 that they would not pick up the $15 million option on Williams' contract for the 2006 season, opting to pay a $3.5 million buyout instead. In December Williams was offered arbitration by team general manager Brian Cashman to allow an additional month for negotiation. On December 22, the Yankees re-signed Williams to a 1 year, $1.5 million contract.
Bernie Williams was one of the Puerto Rican players to agree to play for Puerto Rico in the 2006 MLB World Baseball Classic, joining Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Mike Lowell, Javier Vazquez and Jose Vidro amongst others representing the US Territory Island Nation in a team managed by Saint Louis Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo. On July 26, 2006, Williams got his 2300th career hit, becoming the 11th active player in the Majors with 2300 or more career hits. Bernie continues to climb the NY Yankees record books by hitting his 443rd career double on August 16, 2006. This surpasses his bench coach Don Mattingly for second-most as a Yankee.

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