Bernie Williams: The First Piece of a Yankees Dynasty
Aug 21, 2020 | By: Rob Barros
When you think of the 90's Yankees dynasty, you probably think about the 'core four.' Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada were all intricate parts of a team that won four World Series championships in five years from 1996-2000. The 'core four' earned the name because they all began their careers around the same time and were mainstays on those championship winning teams.
But, the first building block of that impressive dynasty began back in 1991, with center fielder, Bernie Williams.
The Yankees signed Williams as a free agent out of Puerto Rico on September 13th, 1985, the day he turned 17 years old. Williams made his Major League debut on July 7th, 1991 in a 5-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, where he went 1-3 with 2 RBI's. He would play in 85 games in that 1991 season, and only 62 games the following season. It wasn't until 1993 that Williams became a regular in the Yankees lineup.
In that 1993 season, Williams played in 139 games hitting .268 with 12 home runs and 68 RBI's. Williams was having a solid season in 1994 hitting .289 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI's before the season was cancelled due to the players' strike. Baseball would eventually resume in 1995, and Williams saw his numbers improve. Slashing .307/.392/.478 with 18 home runs and 82 RBI's as the Yankees made the playoffs as the first ever wild card team.
In 1996, Williams' numbers would improve yet again, this time in the power game. Williams hit .305 in 1996, but hit 29 home runs and had 102 RBI's, both career highs at the time. After defeating the Rangers in the ALDS, the Yankees took on the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS, and Bernie showed out. He slashed .474/.583/.947 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI's in the six game series, eventually winning the ALCS MVP award. The Yankees of course would win their first World Series since 1978 after defeating the Atlanta Braves in a thrilling six game series.
While the Yankees were not able to defend their championship in 1997, Williams earned some first time personal accolades. Making his first All-Star game appearance and winning his first of four Gold Glove awards in center field. That season Williams hit .328 with 21 home runs and 100 RBI's.
He would win another personal accolade in 1998, when he won the American League Batting Title after hitting .339, also adding 26 home runs and 97 RBI's. He made his second straight All-Star Game and also won his second straight Gold Glove Award. The Yankees went on to win an astounding 114 games en route to their 24th World Series win.
Williams played his last game in the 2006 season. Overall he had won 4 World Series Championships ('96, '98-'00), and finished with a career slash line of .297/.381/.477 with 287 home runs and 1,257 RBI's. He made 5 consecutive All-Star Game appearances ('97-'01) and won four consecutive Gold Glove awards ('97-'00).
Bernie also ranks within the top ten in team history in some major categories. Ranking 5th on the all time Yankee hit list with 2,336 career hits. He is 6th in games played (2,076) and runs scored (1,366). 7th in home runs (287) and RBI's (1,257). Williams also ranks 3rd all time in doubles (449) and is 5th in walks (1,069).
Sure, he may not be a part of the 'core four' but there is no doubting that Bernie Williams is without a doubt one of the best to ever put on the pinstripes.