Just a little time ago here in Miami, a group of New York media reporters and myself were talking about which great Yankee’s player should be next to have his uniform’s number retired.
The immediate answer was number 2′ Derek Jeter.
The quick response is understandable. For 14 seasons the nine-time All-Star shortstop’s long list mark of honors and accolades are not doubt hall-of-fame bound. Not counting that besides Mr. Yankee Captain since 2003 he has been twice Mr. Captain of Team USA in both editions of the World Baseball Classic. Sixteen (16) pages of Jeter’s biography in the 2009 Yankee Media Guide tells it all.
Moreover his number 2 is at the present time, the only number from 1 through 9 not yet retired at Yankee Stadium’ s Monument Park.
What about 51 ? Yes, Bernie Williams. The reaction from the same group was something like he deserves it but we totally forgot about him.
In The Big Apple who should have forgotten whom in 16 seasons was one of the Mr. Yankee. He racked up from 1991-2006 batting .297, 287 homers with 1,257 RBI’s, The Barceloneta native is among the top 15 Yankee career batting leader in 10 offensive categories. Five-Time All-Star; Four Gold Gloves; 1996 American League Championship Series MVP and 1998 American League Batting King.
At least in Borinquen who have forgotten when Williams and catcher Jorge Posada each hit home runs from both sides of the plate in 2000 in a win at Toronto. Only time in history that wo players have hit swith-home runs in the same game. That’s good history.
Back in March after the last Puerto Rico game in the World Baseball Classic the always amiable Williams gave us this wrap-up responses to the Puerto Rico Daily Sun in South Florida.
“I felt really good about playing,” Williams said. “I am my worst critic and I didn’t feel very bad about it. It took me a while to get acclimated. But after a while, I felt very encouraged. I can still play,”
“At this point, I don’t want to be the guy that tries to come back and goes to the independent leagues or the minor leagues for a couple [of] weeks,” Williams said. “I would certainly welcome the opportunity to play in the big leagues at some point, even though the window is very short right now.”
The window never open. And even though he never said it if he’d play for a team other than the Yankees, we really knew he would have only played for the Yankees.
Nowadays Williams, 40, is on the road on his “Moving Forward” second-album jazz tour. And we well very know he still thinks he could have been in the pinstripes uniform one more time.
Just a suggestion to the Yankees organization. Next time you invite him to play a national anthem give him finally a Bernie Williams Day like any other Yankee greats and retire his number 51 forever. And be the first Puerto Rican and Latino to be in Monument Park. Jeter can join him later.
As an extra note, if this column is read in Seattle, the Mariners should finally retire Number 11′ Edgar Martínez. His honors are very long. Then someday another Mariners’ 51 , Ichiro Suzuki.
This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Notebook