Former Albany-Colonie Yankee That ‘Saved’ Jeter Passes Away
Gerald Williams was a very accomplished Major League Baseball player. Williams logged 14 years in the big leagues, breaking in with the New York Yankees. On his way there, Gerald Williams spent the parts of two seasons at Heritage Park with the Albany-Colonie Yankees. On Monday, Williams passed away at 55 from cancer.
According to Erik Boland of newsday.com, as Yankees legendary shortstop Derek Jeter tells it in his 2000 book, "The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams," written with YES analyst Jack Curry, in the spring of 1992 Williams stood up for, a then 19-year-old, Jeter against an older veteran infielder that was hazing the newcomer. Jeter said that Williams 'saved' him. That moment cemented a life-long friendship. On Monday, it was Jeter that made the announcement of Gerald Williams passing on Twitter.
"Gerald Williams passed away this morning after a battle with cancer," Jeter, who is now a part-owner and the CEO of the Miami Marlins, wrote. "To my teammate and one of my best friends in the world, rest in peace, my brother. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Liliana, and their whole family." Jeter has never revealed the name of the player that was harassing him.
Gerald Williams was a terrific defensive outfielder and a steady presence at the plate and in the clubhouse. Former Albany-Colonie Yankee and a teammate of Gerald Williams, Bernie Williams issued his own statement, "I am deeply saddened about the passing of my good friend Gerald Williams. I remember our time in the minors when we were roommates…through thick and thin, we had each other’s backs. We used to talk and dream about how it would be like to play in the big leagues. He had more power, he was faster, and definitely had an exponentially better throwing arm than me, so we used to joke around about him being called up by the Yankees first. We played side-by-side in the big leagues for a little while, so our dream did come true. He was a stand up individual with great character and integrity throughout his whole life. Even though our lives went in separate ways, I always considered him a true friend and a mentor. I will miss him a lot."
14 years in Major League Baseball with a .255 batting average, 85 homers and 365 RBIs in 1,168 games doesn't get you into the Hall of Fame but from what I know and have read, Heaven doesn't look at your stats. I interviewed Gerald Williams at spring training one year down in Tampa in the early 1990's. I was doing a story on Albany-Colonie Yankees that made it to the big leagues. Gerald Williams was the nicest person you would ever want to meet and made a lasting impression on me. Baseball and earth lost a good one on Monday.