Last week, New York Yankee Bernie Williams participated in a public program at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Speaking to a packed auditorium, Williams reflected on his career with the Yankees, the 2001 seven-game World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, President Bush’s famous first pitch and what it meant for the Yankees to become “America’s Team.”
In the clip below, Williams recounts how his countenance on the field changed following the 9/11 attacks, seeing New York fans rally around America’s Team:
“At that moment, I didn’t see the crowd as my, you know, as a distraction. I saw them as, you know, they were, they were just pushing me out to, to do the best that I could do, you know, they were rooting for me and I remember making a lot more eye contact with the fans at that time, looking people in the eye, saying “yeah man, come on, we got them”. And, yeah, I mean, I never do that [laughs], never do that. You know, as a matter of fact I try to block everything out, that’s the only way I know how to play and stay focused. But, I allowed myself to, to interact with the crowd more because I knew that, you know, I knew, for a fact, you know, internally that I was playing for them, I wasn’t playing for the team, I wasn’t playing for a win, I wasn’t, you know, I wasn’t distracted by anything else but just do the things that I needed to do for them, for the fans. It was a really special moment in my career because I don’t think anything like that happened before or after that. So, to me it was really special.”
Williams talked about how the Yankees lent support and provided comfort to their grieving city following the attacks. While visiting the family assistance center at the Lexington Avenue Armory, Williams approached an emotionally drained American Red Cross mental health volunteer and unsure of what he could do to help, simply asked if he could give her a hug. Nearly 18 years later, Williams and the former volunteer were reunited and hugged a second time.
To close the evening, Williams, who is a classically trained guitarist and Latin Grammy–nominated jazz musician, performed a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on guitar.
You can view the full program here. Find out more about the spring 2019 public programming season at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and note that Friday, April 12, is Bernie Williams bobblehead night at Yankee Stadium.
By 9/11 Memorial Staff