Burn baby burn

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Yesterday was the Yankees' first opening day without Bernie Williams since 1991. The longtime stalwart and fan favorite, who helped New York win four World Series titles from 1996-2000, declined the club's offer of a minor league contract this off season and never came to spring training. Sad. I grew up watching him play in pinstripes out in left since I was in elementary school. He was always like an ole faithful for the Yanks, you could always depend on him for a hit and an amazing grab without much fuss off the field. 

I actually met Bernie Williams once. I didn't see him around the ballpark  or in New York even, but in San Diego. The Yankees were in town playing the Padres, and so was my family,friend and I for business and vacay. We were able to score some tickets though. After the game, I had heard that the team was holding up in the Hyatt, which was next door to where we were staying at the Marriott. Being the huge fan that I am, I immediately headed over and staked out the place. Since I apparently looked suspicious a man working for the team approached me and gave me the run around asking me questions about where I am from, etc., as a result I missed the players arriving.

Defeated, I walked about the harbor area when I spotted Bernie in street clothes. Well, not exactly "street," since he had a nice blazer on and was with his wife who was wearing a nice dress. Starstruck and never having seen him outside of his uniform, I wasn't sure if I should approach and if it was really him. I grab my friend's arm and point him out, she encourages me to go up to him, I tell her she has to come too though. I approach like a nervous school girl, stammering out "Are you...are you, Bernie Williams??" I say all this while extending a notepad for him to sign. He takes the book and signs his name and says quietly almost shyly, "Jeez I could have been Tiger Woods for all you knew," which is weird because it's not like my father was around pointing him out or something, and it's not like I just asked if he was famous and that's it, I said his name after all. Either way, he signed my autograph book and then I asked him to sign one for one of his biggest fans, my childhood friend, so he signs the book again and personalizes it to him even. I then asked if we could take a picture, but he looked around nervously afraid others would approach and he said he'd rather not. I said I understood and I smiled at his wife, thanked them and walked away elated.

I later called my friend that I got the extra autograph for and even saw Bernie walk by again, so I quickly and covertly snapped a photo, but it's from the side and at a distance so he looks like any guy in the crowd, just taller. It was a pretty cool sighting for me.  

The Yankees have won nine straight home openers and 20 of their past 23. They won yesterday too, 9 to 5 vs the Devil Rays. 

PS: Happy Birthday Raphael!  

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