Former New York Yankees centerfielder Bernie Williams brought his nationwide book tour to White Plains on Tuesday night—packing the on Main Street with nearly 400 residents from all over Westchester.
“These are my stomping grounds,” said Williams, referring to White Plains. “It’s really flattering.”
The former all-star was in town to promote and autograph copies of his new book, “Rhythms of the Game: The Link Between Musical and Athletic Performance.”
Yankees fans and music lovers filled the store hoping to get a personalized autograph, and a picture with the 42-year-old baseball legend. The line of hundreds—who seemingly all laid claim to the title of Williams’ “biggest fan,”—wrapped around the store. Some diehards even got their spot in line hours before the signing began.
“I love his CD; even seen his concerts, too,” said Greg Packer, 47, of Huntington, who grabbed the first spot in line. “Really happy to meet him.”
Fans tried to make Williams feel in his element as much as possible, even trying to start the famous Yankee roll call at the beginning of the signing.
“It’s Bernie Williams, he’s a Yankee legend,” said Danny Marsella, 32, of Yorktown Heights. “One of my top-five Yankees of all-time.”
Mostly know for his on-the-field success—Williams is also an accomplished jazz guitarist, which has been his primary focus since his playing career ended in 2006.
Williams has performed at the Beacon Theater, Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium. On Wednesday nights he can often be found playing at on Mamaroneck Avenue.
“Go there, not to see me, but to see this phenomenal guitar player named Gil Parris,” said Williams. “He’s the one running the jam, and they’re gracious enough to let me sit in with them. As long as I stay out of their way, they’ll let me play.”
As a resident of nearby Armonk—Williams did not have to travel very far to make the appearance. In addition to frequently visiting the area to perform, he even enrolled at Purchase College’s music program in 2008.
“There’s no doubt about the fact that it’s an extensive, well-rounded music program,” said Williams. “It just seemed to be fitting for what I wanted to do and what I wanted to get accomplished. Still looking forward to perhaps coming back and getting some courses under my belt.”
“Rhythm of the Game” sprouted out of conversations Williams had with Purchase professor and co-author of the book, David Gluck. While Gluck was teaching him, he became intrigued with how Williams’ baseball skills translated into his music performances, and vice versa.
“We would just talk about all these issues,” said Williams. “Like similarities between the game and playing on stage. We had so much information at the end we decided, ‘why don’t we just write a book about this?’”
According to Gluck, the bulk of the book is based on interviews he and Bob Thompson, another co-author and music professor at Purchase, had conducted with Williams.
“After the first lesson, I was like ‘wow, we’re gonna have a lot to talk about,” said Gluck.
After writing about 50 pages of notes in his journal, the three got together once a week over several months to flesh out the ideas.
“We had written all these questions just to start conversations and we just recorded every single interview,” said Gluck.
Williams’ comfortableness in front of the bright lights of Yankee Stadium and on stage during concerts certainly came in handy during the signing—with rarely a second passing without cameras flashing.
Tuesday night was one of the last opportunities fans will have to meet with Williams and get a copy of his book signed. The tour, which began on July 8 in Phoenix, will wrap up this Friday at J&R Music & Computer World in Manhattan.