Bernie Williams to finally sign retirement papers at Yankee Stadium this Friday

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(AP Photo/Doug Mills)
(AP Photo/Doug Mills)

More than eight years after playing in his final MLB game, Bernie Williams is finally ready to call it a career. Bernie will officially sign his retirement papers at a press conference at Yankee Stadium this Friday, the Yankees announced. It would be cool if he signs a one-day contract to retire as a member of the team, but I’m not sure if that will happen. He will throw out the ceremonial first pitch though.

The Yankees are set to retire No. 51 in Bernie’s honor later this season, on May 24th. The team will unveil a logo related to the number retirement at Friday’s press conference. There will also be an on-field ceremony to debut a souvenir pin honoring Williams this Friday, which will be sold by Hard Rock Cafe and benefit Hillside Food Outreach.

Williams, now 46, never did officially retire after last playing in 2006. He’s been back at Yankee Stadium a whole bunch of times over the years, for Old Timers’ Day, Mariano Rivera‘s and Derek Jeter‘s retirement ceremonies, all sorts of stuff. Signing the retirement papers is really just a formality at this point.

Bernie hit .297/.381/.477 (125 OPS+) with 449 doubles, 287 home runs, and 147 stolen bases in his 16-year career, all with the Yankees, and he helped them to four World Series titles. He was the fifth member of the Core Four and the first of the bunch to make his MLB debut. Williams was on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2012 and 2013 but didn’t receive enough votes to stay on the ballot.

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  • dkidd

    easily the most underrated player of his era

  • Robert Lucarelli

    He did retire a member of the yanks….players usually do one day contracts when they retire with a team they don’t identify themselves with

    Like matsui

  • SweetSpot

    Bernie Baseball. Man did I love watching him play.

  • TheEvilUmpire

    He had a smooth way of making the game look easy. Bern on!

  • Leftballer

    *awaits obligatory post mentioning Bernies inanimate pension for driving in clutch sacrifice fly’s*

    • dave_8

      Nah, Bernie has an animate pension — that’s why he waited 10 yrs to retire after he stopped playing.

  • dickylarue

    Nothing irks me more than all that “core four” garbage from years ago. Bernie was as big a part of the core that led to a dynasty as any of those guys and he never wore another uniform. One of my favorite Yankees hands down.

    • Some Asshole

      I agree that Williams was an integral part of the team, especially during its brightest moments.

    • 86w183

      Loved Bernie, but the “Core Four” moniker didn’t fit him. He made his MLB debut three years before Derek, Mo, Jorge and Andy got there. They arrived almost simultaneously, thus the nickname for the group. It never was a slight at Bernie and shouldn’t be viewed as one.

      He’s the third greatest CF in Yankees history…. that’s what matters most.

    • Giuseppe Franco

      I think Michael Kay came up with that moniker, which kinda figures since pretty much everything Kay says or does is stupid.

    • Freddy-says

      The moniker was entirely appropriate for the time because it had been eight years since the team won the world series. Of the players on that great 2009 team, only those four were around during the dynasty years. People get all worked up over nothing, as if it was meant as some personal slight against a player who wasn’t even on the team at the time. We all know how important Bernie was to those 90’s, early 00’s Yankee teams, but he was already long-retired by the time the 2009 season came around.

  • levendis

    sure he cant play RF?

  • BearNJ

    Great Yankee but retiring his number is a joke.

    • 86w183

      I’ve ranted on that subject a lot. You can honor players with plaques without retiring the number. A retired number should be reserved for the greatest of the great. Hall of Famers who spent all or almost all of their careers in pinstripes. If it was up to me that would be Babe, Lou, Joe, The Mick, Yogi/Dickey and Whitey…. soon to be joined by Derek and Mo…. that’s it.

      • WhittakerWalt

        I’ll allow special dispensation for Mattingly, using the “he would have been a Hall of Famer if…” argument, but I do think this is getting out of hand.

      • BearNJ

        That’s the way i view it. Tino received a plaque. I put Andy, Jorge and Bernie in the same category as deserving a plaque. Jeter is the only one that deserves his number retired from that era.

        George started this by being sentimental. In my opinion #1, #9, #10, #32 and #44 shouldn’t have been retired. I had no problem with Mattingly because he was captain, a life long Yankees and captain.

    • BigDavey88|formerly BigDavey88

      Bernie is one of the most underrated outfielders in recent memory – a prime that lasted a decade with ~130 OPS+ production, from a premium position in CF with average to above average defense, solid baserunning, and he did all of this during the heyday of PED baseball. Because his game had zero flash and he had zero charisma many people overlook his career. He’s probably the most deserving to get his number retired out of the latest group and was a huge middle of the order bat for those dynasty teams.

      With all of that said, why shouldn’t he be considered for number retirement? Because of “too many numbers?” Because honoring too many players is diluting the process? The HOF is some diluted bullshit too.

      Look, the dynasties of old had a ton of integral players on the team over the course of their run. They were honored by the team for their success.

      The last dynasty had a ton of integral players on the team over the course of it’s run. They shouldn’t be honored for their success because…?

      This whole argument that has been going on since the latest number retirements is nitpicky and pointless. At best it’s “I want to argue with people just because” and because “Yankees”

      • Basil

        Your argument is unintelligible, and it’s final sentence makes a claim you can’t possibly justify.

        Bernie’s number–and those of various other recent retirees–should not be retired because it cheapens, with sentimentality, the numbers of great Hall of Fame players who have been retired: Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, et al..

        He was a very good and valuable player. There have been many such: Henrich, Keller, Bauer, Skowron, Nettles, Rivers, and on and on. They’re only being ignored because of mass “presentism.” If Bernie gets into the Hall, retire it then.

        • BigDavey88|formerly BigDavey88

          I think you’re proving my last point to be very correct actually.

          How does having too many retired numbers tangibly affect you or anyone else in any way? The Yankees have too many retired numbers because they’ve had too many good players and have been the most successful franchise.

          This entire back and forth is semantics and nothing more. I don’t see anything wrong with a franchise honoring its players for the good fortunes they brought to said franchise (and to make some extra money). How people see this as a problem at all is weird to me. It seems like a good problem to have, IMO.

          • 86w183

            It has nothing to do with how it affects us… none of this has any affect on us as fans. It’s simply a difference of opinion. I (and others) think retiring a number is the ultimate honor a team can bestow on a player and it is cheapened when it happens too often. You don’t agree and that’s fine, but there’s nothing weird about either position.

            • BigDavey88|formerly BigDavey88

              Fair enough. There is nothing wrong with having a different opinion. I’m more or less responding to the people that are acting like this is some travesty, a slight to the franchise, the “we’re gonna run out of numbers” crowd.

          • Basil

            It is a good problem to have, and that’s why they should exercise a bit more discipline in dealing with it. At this rate, they’ll begin looking like football uniforms–or maybe they can bring back 3, 4, 5, etc., but with exponents.

    • WhittakerWalt

      At least he played his entire career with the team, but I do think you should be a Hall of Famer before they retire your number. I know that’s not the rule, and other teams don’t do it, but there’s just too many Yankee greats or semi-greats to choose from. Eventually they’re going to retire every number below 100 if they keep doing this.

      • BigDavey88|formerly BigDavey88

        I really doubt that. Eventually people with nostalgia tinted glasses will, uh, move on, and people won’t be outraged when they reuse the same numbers.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    Cocaine is a hell of a drug. Glad the rocker finally remembered his 1st life.

    Definitely a fan favorite to be remembered.

  • Yanks27

    The most valuable player of those dynasty teams

  • ScottinSJ

    A terrific player, a gentleman, and an almost forgotten champion.

    • Farewell Mo and Jeet

      There have been few teams with even 1 star player who carried themselves with as much class as Bernie, Mo or Jeter let alone 3.

      • costanzanumba0

        great comment, we were so damn lucky and I didn’t even realize it

        • Roy Drage

          We were spoiled, no doubt.

        • Farewell Mo and Jeet

          It’s easy to think at the time that the glory days are gonna last forever.

  • Sir Didi Nakamura

    If I were Bernie, I’d show up to the retirement ceremony with a shirt that says this:

    “Core Four Five”

  • WhittakerWalt

    “He will throw out the ceremonial first pitch lollipop the first pitch to home plate though.”

    • Farewell Mo and Jeet

      It would be funny if Jeter came to the ceremony and was his cutoff man on the pitch to home plate.

  • Farewell Mo and Jeet

    Bernie was the 1st member of the core 4, not the 5th. He falls short of the HOF IMO however it was kind of joke how few votes he got compared to other inferior players

  • WhittakerWalt

    I loved me some Bernie. If only he’d not fallen off a cliff at such an early age, he’d have gotten some serious HoF consideration. When he was good there were few better.

  • pfoj

    Any word on who the relay man will be on Bernie’s first pitch?

    • WhittakerWalt

      It’s too easy, but I made a similar joke.

      • pfoj

        Yeah, I’ve probably made that same joke like six times by now, but whatever, it’s a classic.

        Anyway though, Bernie’s peak is crazy underrated. .321/.406/.531 from a premium defensive position over a nine year period where he averaged 143 games (and that includes the strike shortened 1995) while being the best or second best position player on four World Series teams.

    • oldmanalex

      Johnny Damon, who will then roll the ball to home plate.

      • WhittakerWalt

        They’ll need a second cutoff man.

        • Mayan Brickann

          Ellsbury

    • gageagainstthemachine

      Bernie could’ve walked it in on a waiter’s tray for all I care with all the awesome years he put up at the plate.

  • Nick

    Semi-related question: Once Bernie has his number retired, will we be able to buy his Jersey again in stores? I had a Bernie t-shirt when I was younger, but never got his jersey. Now you can’t even custom make them on mlb.com. I’m hoping they’ll be available once the ceremony takes place.

    • pfoj

      I have the same question too on Posada. I no longer fit into any of my old Jorge stuff and can’t buy new stuff and if I can’t soon I may just have to binge eat until I fit into it all again.

    • Some Asshole

      …it’s just a Yankees jersey with the number 51 on it, isn’t it?

      • Nick

        Which mlb.com’s shop doesn’t allow you to custom make…

        • Some Asshole

          Interesting. One would think you could just get a jersey and put whatever number you wish on it. I mean, that’s the point of “custom.” What does it allow you to “custom” make?

          • pfoj

            You could do “Your Last Name 69” and it would take it, but all of the recently retired combinations like “Pettitte 46” are off limits.

            • Some Asshole

              Strange.
              *Though, yes, I actually do have “My Last Name 69.” I chose that number for high school football because I was a high school male. Then I got the non-authentic Yankees jersey to match.

          • Nick

            You can custom any active player and a bunch of the HOF players. You can also custom a random number (and name if you want the non-authentic style). They have blocks in place for recently retired guys like Williams, Posada and Pettitte though.

  • captainmike

    they should have called them the fab five
    and NO cashman DOES NOT get credit for the successes they had

    • WhittakerWalt

      “…and NO cashman DOES NOT get credit for the successes they had”

      Of course he doesn’t. He didn’t draft any of them. Just had to get in an illogical Cashman dig?

      • captainmike

        moron,
        a lot of people DO give credit to cashman for the WS’s that they won so it was not an illogical dig
        don’t comment if you don’t know jack

        • Jim Is Bored

          I know jack! How’s he doing?

        • Nick

          Maybe you should take your own advice and just shut up? Stick Michael absolutely laid the groundwork for the dynasty, but you’d have to be a complete fool to ignore the pieces Cashman added to fortify the 98-2000 teams.

      • Farewell Mo and Jeet

        If we’re taking off topic pot shots then I’d like to get in a #Hal Sucks
        :)

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    ….and he signed the retirement forms “Carlos Beltran.” Wacka wacka wacka.

  • RetroRob

    Bernie shows up to play with Gil Parris at a pub in Westchester fairly regularly. Saw him about a month back. I can confirm that he has more a musician’s body now than an athlete’s.

    • pfoj

      It’s actually jarring now when I see video of ~1996 Bernie and realize how jacked he was.

      • RetroRob

        Always a bit interesting how players stay in shape, or don’t post their playing careers. Bernie strikes me as the type who will never workout, unless he was actually attempting a return to baseball, as we saw a couple of times, including once for the WBC. He’ll just get paunchier every year. Other players like Paul O’Neill remain in top shape. O’Neill almost looks like he could step out on the field and play RF now (insert obligatory Carlos Beltran comment here). Reggie Jackson always stayed in great shape. Same with Willie Randolph. Others just fall totally apart. Derek Jeter ways he’s looking forward to not have the workout schedules he’s had all his life. That almost sounds like he won’t workout, yet I have a hard time believing Jeter will allow himself to fall apart. Too many models left to date.

        • pfoj

          Paul has mentioned crossfit a few times on the broadcasts, so I guess that’s how he works off all the food he eats during games,.

          And Girardi is probably the best example of a guy who has stayed in shape. Outside of his hair he looks practically identical to his playing days. If they ever had a free 40 man spot in September I’d be all in favor of him being the fourth emergency catcher when rosters expand.

    • https://www.facebook.com/daniel.wasserman.35 nsalem

      My kid plays with Gil and Bernie at Ron Black’s on Wednesdays. I think we will be there tonight. Maybe around 11. I think Ray and Gil are talking about doing some shows together in Westchester in the very near future. Both Gil and Bernie are incredible musicians who have been very supportive of Ray who is only 19. https://soundcloud.com/raytherubio

      • Jim Is Bored

        That’s really awesome!

      • RetroRob

        I believe I saw them at Pete’s Saloon towards the end of March. Pete’s has been around forever and I rarely visit, so was pleasantly surprised when I stopped in and they were playing. Can’t make Ron Black’s tonight as I need to be up too early tomorrow, but I’ll keep that in mind if they play their regularly on Wednesdays. I’ll give your son’s music a listen. He must be pretty good if he plays with Gil.

  • pfoj

    Semi OT, but when Jeter comes back for Derek Jeter Day whenever, instead of a first pitch from the mound he’s going to flip it backhand to Posada from 40 feet up the 1B line, right?

  • Game 3

    I wish he’d retire from music.

    /I’m out!

  • pasqua

    I guess after nine years he finally needs the pension payments to start rolling in?

    • Jim Is Bored

      Doubt it. He has a succesfull music career.

      • Some Asshole

        Plus around $100 million in earnings from baseball that he doesn’t seem to have pissed away.

      • Mandy Stankiewicz

        A Grammy and multiple World Series rings. It’s insane.

      • pasqua

        Yeah, that was tongue-in-cheek.

  • Looser Trader FotD™

    LOVE Bernie baseball. Hard to believe it was 2006 when he last played. I miss everything about him.

  • joey12524

    Great player, a gentleman. My fav.

  • Bret The Hitman

    Well, all-time favorite Yankee.