“One day I feel like coming back, one day I feel like my family wants me back,” said Bernie Williams, who’s batting .281 in a part-time role, 32 points higher than in his disappointing 2005 season. “I think I could probably play a couple more years. But there are actually a couple things that are making me think a little bit more.” If he left, Williams said, “a little would be about family, a little about music.”
Williams always envisioned himself playing baseball until he absolutely knew he couldn’t play anymore, and “in some ways that’s what I still want to do,” he says. In other ways, this could be it for Williams, the beloved Yankee who’s one of the franchise’s all-time clutch hitters but who’s also an accomplished classical guitarist. He composed seven songs on his ’04 debut album, The Journey Within, which received favorable reviews.
Two teammates predicted that Williams would return to the Yankees next year, but Williams isn’t ready to commit. The Yankees have a crowded outfield picture with four starters already tied to the team for ’07 — Melky Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon — even if, as expected, Gary Sheffield’s $13 million option isn’t picked up.
Though few things have brought me as much joy as the Yankees’ recent championship drought, Bernie’s always been a class act, and I wish him well. If retirement means he’ll be unleashing his brand of “latin-flavored, contemporary jazz” on a full-time basis, just remember : it could be much, much worse.