“I couldn’t even throw when I was playing,” Bernie Williams said, “so I’m dreading this right now.”
He said it with a smile as he sat in the Yankees dugout watching batting practice before Wednesday night’s American League wild-card game. But Williams also had genuine trepidation about throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, something he has done on several occasions, including for ALCS games in 2009, ’10 and ’17.
His results had been mixed, including a couple of high ones, and one that bounced before reaching the plate.
“I was booed,” he said. “They don’t mess around here, man. As long as I don’t bounce it, I’m fine.”
As it turned out, Williams had nothing to fear. After receiving a loud standing ovation, he threw a looping strike to Tyler Wade, who then hugged him.
“There is something to be said about going out there and throwing out the first pitch and giving the good vibes to the team,” Williams said before the game. “Hopefully it will get them in a good mood, get the fans going and it will be a good game . . . Hopefully it will work into my win-loss record after a throw first pitch.”
Williams, who turned 50 last month, won four World Series during his 16 seasons with the Yankees from 1991-2006, and has remained close to the franchise.
He said he enjoyed watching the 2018 team, whose achievements he believed were overshadowed by the 108-win season by the Red Sox.
“It was the regular season,” he said. “I think tradition-wise, this is the time this team lives for. It didn’t matter how we got in, as long as we got in somehow.”
Williams said he relishes still being included in the Yankees’ world.
“What is not to enjoy?” he said. “Being part of an organization like this that has thrived on excellence for the past hundred years, it’s quite an honor to be invited. I never take it for granted. Obviously, I have a whole life outside the game that I’m enjoying now, but there’s something to be said about being here and being part of this.
“If you can do anything, put your little grain of sand to help this team move in a positive way, I’m better for it. it’s just a great opportunity and a great honor to be here.”