On this episode of the Rox Pile Rockies Report, New York Yankees Hall of Famer Bernie Williams join us from Denver at the MLB All-Star Game.
Williams was the center fielder for the Yankees from 1991 through 2006, won four World Series titles with the Yankees (1996, 1998-2000) and appeared in two more (2001, 2003). He was an All-Star five times and he tells us about his memories of the 1998 MLB All-Star Game and his brief time playing at Coors Field.
Williams is at the All-Star Game in Denver (in partnership with MLB and Boehringer Ingelheim, the largest privately owned pharmaceutical company in the world) to raise awareness for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, through the Breathless campaign. IPF is a rare and fatal lung disease that Williams’ father, Bernie Sr., succumbed to in 2001.
Williams tells us about his father’s experience with the disease and how tough it was for him, as a player, to deal with his father’s diagnosis (and previous misdiagnoses) for years while he was playing baseball.
Bernie Williams also told us about his time with the New York Yankees, the World Baseball Classic, and his music career.
Bernie Williams tells us about some of his favorite memories with the late New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies coach Don Zimmer, as well as some of his teammates, including Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte (also known as “The Core Four.”)
Williams also tells us about some of the things that he would like to change about his baseball career, in hindsight, including a contract that he regretted not signing.
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In 2009, Williams played for his native Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and he tells us the experiences he had with it and how it is a bit different than playing in the majors.
We also discuss his thoughts on the similarities and differences between today’s game and the game that he played more than a decade ago as well as whether or not he has considered getting back into baseball in a broadcasting, coaching, or front-office capacity.
We wrap up by talking about his music career. Williams is a jazz musician who is a classically trained guitarist with two studio albums, The Journey Within and Moving Forward, that were released in 2003 and 2009. The Journey Within peaked, as an album, at #3 on the jazz charts, and with Moving Forward, the album peaked at #2 on the Jazz Charts and two of the singles off the album (Ritmo De Otoño and Go For It) peaked at #2 and #1 on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Songs list.
Between the two albums, he has some covers of some songs from very famous musicians or famous songs (such as Billy Joel’s And So It Goes, Kansas’s Dust In The Wind, and his spin on Take Me Out To The Ballgame), original compositions (such as the aforementioned Ritmo De Otoño and Go For It), and some collaborations (such as Glory Days with Bruce Springsteen and the song Moving Forward with fellow athlete turned jazz musician Wayman Tisdale).
Williams hasn’t released an album in 12 years but we ask him whether or not a new one may soon be on the horizon. Since his last album came out, Williams graduated with his Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in 2016.
You can follow Bernie Williams on Twitter here, learn more about IPF or donate to research for it here, and you can check out some of Williams’ music here. You can listen to our podcast above or wherever you download your podcasts.