ABC News’ Rick Klein (@rickklein) reports:
Bernie Williams is best known for his 16-year career with the New York Yankees, the Gold Glove centerfielder on four World Series championship teams that helped restore the pinstripes to glory in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Now, he’s got a thriving post-baseball career as a musician – and that’s the message he brought to Capitol Hill this week, as he makes a case to lawmakers about the value of music education.
“My message is to try to pull this idea to have every kid to have the opportunity to learn an instrument in schools, and have music as part of the … curriculum in schools,” Williams, in town lobbying with the NAMM Foundation on behalf of music education, told me in an interview for ABC’s “Top Line.” “It is just a must to have.”
Music education is a tough sell in the current budget environment, Williams acknowledged. But the story is personal for him: Williams attended a performing arts high school and credits that time with helping grow his mind in ways that helped in baseball, guitar-playing, and life.
“The things that I learned from learning a musical instrument and all the things you know about discipline and overcoming adversity, playing under pressure — all those things I was able to incorporate into my sports discipline. And use a lot of that stuff to being successful as a baseball player. So I definitely am an advocate for music education in schools.”
And we talked a little baseball. Williams told us that he’s confident his former teammates Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada will break out of their early-season slumps.
“This is a very long year,” he said. “I think they’re going to be able to pull it off. I mean, they have been in that situation before. They’ve gone through adversity before and they have been able to come through, you know, more times than not. So I wouldn't bet against those guys. [They are] my buddies, and I definitely wish them very well.”
Plus, Williams – at my urging – engaged in a little lobbying to see his No. 51 jersey retired among the legends in Yankees Stadium’s Monument Park.
“It was my number,” Williams said. “I basically have a great association with that. I don't know — it is up to the organization to make it that way. But I was very proud to have the opportunity to play for them for the greater part of 16 years now, being able to play in all those world championship series and being part of a great organization like that.”
Watch the full interview with Bernie Williams.