Bernie Williams may not receive the same recognition as some of the other stars, but the lifelong Yankee was a key cog in their dominance in the 1990s and 2000s.
The outfielder was a five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, and won four World Series during his 16-year career. Williams spent all 16 of those years with the Yankees and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Williams talked about what it was like playing in New York for Joe Torre on the Audacy Original Podcast “Damon Amendolara’s New York Accent”.
“When he became manager of the New York Yankees, even though he managed the Mets before, I think he felt like he had something to prove because he never really was considered a winning manager,” Williams said (16:03 in player above). “He said it, ‘I never really had the talent that I had when I was managing the Yankees.’”
Torre’s first foray into managing didn’t go too well. From 1977 to 1981, the Mets went 286-420 (.405 winning percentage) under Torre. He found some success with the Braves after that, managing Atlanta to the NLCS in his first season.
After that, Torre spent some time in the broadcast booth before returning to manage the Cardinals. He was better there, managing St. Louis to three winning seasons but finished with a 351-354 record in total.
Then, Torre found his home in New York, where he won six AL Pennants and four World Series titles with the Yankees.
Torre made it easy to play for him and Williams is grateful for that.
“His approach was very different. He only had two rules. ‘You play your rear end off and you be here on time. If you do those two things, I’ll go through the wringer for you.’ And he did it many times,” Williams continued. “He let me play two or three more years in my career with the Yankees when everybody wanted to trade me or do something different with me. He was very loyal to his players and he is definitely one of my favorite people in baseball. We still remain very good friends.”
Williams was a career .297 hitter, although that average took a hit later in his career with four-straight sub-.300 seasons. Torre remained loyal to the career Yankee through his struggles.
Perhaps the veteran outfielder had earned that due to his prime years. From 1996 to 2000, Williams finished top-17 in MVP voting in all five years while playing Gold Glove defense in the outfield. He averaged 26 home runs per season during that span while batting .324.
Ultimately, Williams has gotten the respect he deserves in New York and Torre has more than done the same with his success on and off the field.
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