At Yankee Stadium, it doesn't much matter that Bernie Williams is no longer a star player. Williams is cheered for just about everything he does well and is forgiven for his short-comings. He's earned it, so it has been a pleasure to watch Yankee fans show their appreciation for Williams this year. Not everyone is so lucky. According to Peter Botte in the Daily News:
"Bernie will make an error and they'll cheer him when he comes up (to bat). For the guys who get booed off the face of the earth, I'm sure they feel it's unfair, but that's the way it goes," [manager] Joe Torre said Sunday. "Bernie's just never changed. From the first day I met him 11 years ago, to now, and he's made a ton of money . . . but this man has never changed one bit."
..."He's just never felt he was entitled to something. I told him one time that he was a leader here and I think I stunned him," Torre said. "He's always been very honest and an elegant individual to me. He's been a regular player and a great player in postseason and it's always the 'aw-shucks' stuff all the time. But I think he's enjoying this a lot."
Williams tells Tyler Kepner how influencial Don Mattingly was for him during the early '90s:
"He taught me a piece of advice that I take even to this day," Williams said Sunday. "He said to me: 'I don't really care what you do the night before or the week before when you come to the field, you come ready to play. Mentally ready to play. You've got to be all there. You can't worry about maybe I don't feel too good today, or I don't feel 100 percent. You've got to go like: dude, get it done.'"
Almost 2,000 times now, Williams has taken the field, with aches most fans never hear about. He estimates that players are in top shape only 25 percent of the time. The other days are a grind, Williams said, but it is important for young players to see veterans playing hurt.
"It has more of a positive influence than you would ever know," he said.
The Kepner article is worth checking out just to see the photograph of Williams when he was a young major leaguer. He's rocking the Dorkasaurous Rex glasses and everything.