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Bernie Williams Gave Up Baseball to Become a Musician
AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Former New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams was one of the more unspoken heroes on the dominant Bronx Bombers’ squads from the 1990s through the early 2000s. Williams spent his entire 16-year career patrolling center field at Yankee Stadium, but unlike many players who transition into an analytical role upon retirement, Williams had other plans.

Anyone who watched Williams play could compare his game to a smooth jazz melody. That’s why his calling after baseball was such a perfect fit. The Puerto Rico native retired from baseball in 2006 in order to pursue a career as a jazz musician.

Bernie Williams Music

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Despite being one of the greatest baseball players of his era, Williams’ true calling is music. The 52-year-old received his Bachelor of Music from the Manhattan School of Music in 2016 and has released two jazz albums since his retirement. Williams is a trained classical guitarist who has been playing since he was a kid.

Williams’ first album, “The Journey Within” was released in 2003 and reached the No. 3 spot on Billboard’s Top 100 Contemporary Jazz chart.

His Latin Grammy-nominated album “Moving Forward” was released in 2009 and features 14 tracks. The second album includes features from musical legends such as Jon Secada, Dave Koz and Bruce Springsteen, and it held its position at No. 2 on the Top 100 for five weeks.

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In addition to his music, Williams authored a book, “Rhythms of the Game: The Link Between Music and Athletic Performance.”

Furthermore, the former professional baseball player is involved in charity work focused on music education, having joined forces with Little Kids Rock to offer music education to lower-income areas. He’s also worked with Turnaround Arts to help provide arts education programs to low-performing middle schools and elementary schools.

Bernie Williams Early Life and MLB Career

Bernabé Williams was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His father, who worked as a merchant marine, infatuated Williams with music after bringing him home a guitar from Spain.

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Williams was an athlete growing up, starring in both baseball and track and field. Ultimately, he chose to pursue a baseball career over his other alternatives, a decision which paid off for the center fielder.

Across his 16 years in pinstripes, Williams hit 287 home runs and drove in 1,257 RBIs. He won the batting title in 1998 after recording a batting average of .339 in the regular season. Williams was a five-time All-Star and took home four Gold Glove awards throughout his career in Major League Baseball.

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Additionally, Williams was a four-time World Series champion and won the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player award in 1996 for his performance in the series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Williams was clearly a man of many talents, and it’s rare in life that someone achieves his level of success as both an athlete and artist. Williams did just that, and he is crushing it as a musician in retirement.

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Karl Rasmussen is a sports writer living in Brooklyn, NY. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon and is an avid fan of the Oregon Ducks, Portland Trail Blazers, New York Yankees and New York Jets.
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