Retiring Bernie Williams' No. 51 Long Overdue

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Retiring Bernie Williams' No. 51 Long Overdue
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

When fans think about center field for the New York Yankees, they think Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Bernie Williams.

All three of these Yankee legends were among the best players to roam center field at Yankee Stadium.

But of those three, only two are in the Hall of Fame and have had their numbers retired by the Yankees.

The only exception is Bernie Williams.

Williams was the Yankees cleanup hitter for most of his career and was part of the Yankees' dynasty that won four World Series from 1996 to 2000.

Remember, he won a batting title.

If the Yankees weren't considered an All-Star Team already in the '90s and early 2000s, Williams was part of five American League All-Star Teams.

The accolades go on and on.

But the man does not have a spot in Memorial Park.

The 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was recently released. and fans have already started talking about the future ballots.

Williams played his final game as a Yankee on Oct. 1, 2006.

This means that he will not be eligible to be on the ballot until 2011, and the buzz for that ballot has already started.

The former Yankee center fielder made a strong case for a spot in Cooperstown by compiling a great career in a span of 16 seasons with the New York Yankees.

He is one of just seven players to be on the Bronx Bombers for that long.

But a series of injuries may have slowed down and prevented Williams from making an even greater career with the Yankees.

Fans were forced to cringe and watch players like Chad Curtis replace Williams for a span of time because Bernie was hurt.

Then when No. 51 returned to his duties in center field, it was if he was never gone.

In some cases, Bernie Williams would quickly get back on pace to hit 30 homers and 100 RBI in a season. 

Williams embodied the meaning of being a true Yankee like Derek Jeter.

Red Sox fans may talk trash about players like Derek Jeter, but many will refuse to speak about Williams in that manner.

Other Yankee fans respected Williams because of how great of a guy he was on and off of the field.

Bernie Williams provided fans with many memories throughout the years.

There are thousands of fans who hope 2010 will be the year that Bernie Williams' 51 is placed with the other retired numbers of past Yankee greats. 

It would be awesome to have a Bernie Williams plaque in Memorial Park some day, even if Williams does or does not make Cooperstown.

Children of the future can look at that plaque or at the retired number and ask about No. 51.

The father would then be able to tell the great story of Bernie Williams.

The man who carried the Yankees in the 1996 American League Championship Series to their first World Series since the '70s. 

 

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