Wednesday, June 5, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #30 BERNIE WILLIAMS


BATTED 1.000 IN CLASS.




MAIN COG IN THE LATE '90s YANKEE DYNASTY.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Bernie Williams exuded class and professionalism during his 16 years, all with the Yankees. That wasn't enough for owner George Steinbrenner, who tried to trade him repeatedly in the early 1990s but was talked out of it by his wise baseball men. Rarely spectacular but ever so steady, the soft-spoken Williams was a huge part of the Pinstripe Dynasty from 1996-'01, when N.Y. won four World Series. Williams finished with 2,336 hits, a .297 average and a .381 on-base percentage. The Yanks would've been impossible to hate if they had a roster full of Bernie Williamses.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • On Oct. 9, 1996, Williams won Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Orioles with a leadoff homer off closer #182 Randy Myers in the bottom of the 11th inning. The 5-4 victory set the tone for a five-game victory and the Yankees' first pennant in 18 years. He hit .474 with two homers and was voted ALCS MVP.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Williams became the first player to win a batting title, Gold Glove and World Series in the same year in '98. He hit .339 with 26 homers and 97 RBI as the Yankees set a major-league record for victories in a season with 114 and swept the Padres in the World Series. 

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Discussed in at least four trades involving the Expos, Giants, Tigers and Cubs in the '90s. 
  2. A postseason monster, he has the most RBI (80) and played in the third-most games (121).
  3. During a 10-year span from '94-'05, Williams averaged 23 homers, 95 RBI and batted .310.
  4. When his contract expired after a .281/12/61 season in '06, Williams wanted a guaranteed contract as a backup, but the Yankees would offer only an invitation to spring training with the chance to make the team. Williams declined and never played in the majors again.
  5. A classically trained guitarist, Williams released two albums, the last in '09.

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