One exception is Bernie Williams, ex-centerfielder for the New York Yankeeswho has recently embarked on a successful recording career. Being a center fielder for the Yanks can be some pretty big spikes to fill – the legendary Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle roamed the mid-field of the “House that Ruth Built.” But Bernie held his own with his illustrious career bringing four world championships, five All-Star selections, an ALCS MVP Award, four gold gloves, a lifetime 308 batting average culminating in a batting title in 1998.
As his career with the Yankees was winding down, Bernie launched his second career with a critically acclaimed album entitled "The Journey Within."
I had the privilege of working with him on promotions for the record that included a custom made Fender Telecaster® guitar resplendent with the Yankees logo, pinstripes and Bernie's number “51” painted on the face. We presented the guitar at a concert at House of Blues in my hometown of Chicago as part of the celebration of the 2003 All-star game. Bernie closed the show with the guitar and the concert footage appeared in his documentary on the making of the album.
Now Fender has created another Yankees Telecaster guitar based on the first one, except this one will include a very special engraved pickguard commemorating the inaugural season at the new Yankees Stadium. The guitar will be a permanent fixture at the Hard Rock Café location within the stadium and who better to present the guitar to the Hard Rock than Bernie Williams. I will be one of the first fans to get a peek inside the new stadiumthis Thursday, April 2nd when the guitar will change hands at home plate.
But this is just part of festivities celebrating not only the new stadium, but also the release of Bernie’s second album, "Moving Forward" on Reform Records which hits the streets on April 14th (Bernie will also appear at the home opener on April 16th). By the way, the Hard Rock has about three dozen Fender guitars that will be smashed to “christen” the new stadium so let the fireworks begin. If that’s not enough, the first professional game to be played in the stadium will be Friday evening with an exhibition game between the Bronx Bombers and my beloved Chicago Cubs so this week will be monumental for diehard music and baseball fan like me.
Back to Bernie’s new record. I got a chance to hear an advanced copy and it takes the Jazz and Latin influences of the first, and adds a new dimension with more Rock tinged tracks including a rousing version of “Glory Days” with none other than The Boss himself. But one of the standouts certainly has to be a lovely rendition of the standard “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” that for me, captures the nostalgia of that very first big league game I attended with my dad when I was a mere seven years old. The green expanse of the outfield seemed to go on forever and I still recall the smell of the fresh cut grass like it was yesterday. That right of passage has been extended to both of my daughters and my stepson, and now for our family baseball will always be the prefect way to spend a day together.