By Sweeny Murti
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Bernie Williams is retiring.READ MORE: Events Across NYC Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Yes, that is news. Kind of. I mean, do you know how many things have happened since Bernie last played a major league game on October 7, 2006?
Mike Trout was in high school. Hank Aaron was the all-time home run leader. There was no such thing as an iPhone!
Good for Bernie, for finally coming to grips with it. Well, almost. He won’t actually sign the papers and say the ‘R’ word until this Friday at Yankee Stadium. Yes, it was hard for him—his retirement came about in much the same way that Don Mattingly’s did. The contract ended, the Yankees went in another direction, and neither one played for another team ever again. It took Mattingly about a year to make that decision. It took Bernie nine years.
He’s certainly been busy. Bernie has put out some quality music, been quite visible too—whether it’s at Boomer & Carton charity games, throwing out the occasional first pitch (as he will Friday night when the Yankees host the Mets), or at his annual charity event for the Hillside Food Outreach (www.hillsidefoodoutreach.org), where Bernie entertains with both his music and his baseball stories to help raise money for the program that feeds hungry families in the Hudson Valley.READ MORE: Students In Seton Hall Leadership Program Carry On Principles Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I’ve had the honor of taking part in many of those events with Bernie over the near-decade since his last game. The reaction he gets — it gets bigger and louder every year, it seems. He’s been a fan favorite for a long time for many reasons: his on-field success, his humility, his philanthropy. He’s been busy so it’s hard to find Bernie sometimes, which is maybe another reason why the Yankees couldn’t get him to officially retire until now.
But Bernie now resides in that category of ex-Yankees who bring the house down at Old-Timers’ Day and similar events. He is part of the last great dynasty. He is one of those players that 30- and 40-somethings tell their kids they watched when they were young. He was not Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio great. But he’s part of what made the Yankees great the last time they were a great team.
The joke around the Yankees was always that Bernie moved at his own pace. The last nine years go a long way in proving that.
It’s over now, Bernie. Welcome to retirement. I hope you can actually say the word on Friday.MORE NEWS: 15-Year-Old Girl Killed In Suspected Hit-And-Run On Brooklyn Street
Follow Sweeny Murti on Twitter: @YankeesWFAN