Williams was originally drafted by the Yankees in 1987 and played parts of five seasons over two separate stints with the team.
Former New York Yankees draft pick and outfielder Gerald Williams passed away from cancer on Tuesday morning at the age of 55. Williams’ passing was confirmed by his close friend and former New York teammate Derek Jeter.
“To my teammate and one of my best friends in the world, rest in peace, my brother,” Jeter said on the social accounts of his website, The Players’ Tribune. “My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Liliana, and their whole family.”
Williams entered professional baseball in 1987, when the Yankees chose him in the 14th round of the amateur draft. He would make his MLB debut in the late stages of the 1992 season, bursting onto the scene with three home runs and six runs batted in over 27 at-bats. Injuries prevented Williams from making a lasting impact on the New York roster, but he was nonetheless responsible for several memorable pinstriped moments.
In May 1996, Williams tied a Yankee record with six hits in a single game (set by Myril Hoag and tied again by Johnny Damon), doing so in an extra innings win over Baltimore. Less than two weeks later, Williams played a major role in Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter against Seattle, as his running catch took a hit from Alex Rodriguez and set up a double-play when Darren Bragg, assuming Rodriguez had picked up a hit, ran too far.
Williams was traded to Milwaukee in August 1996 (in a deal that sent Graeme Lloyd, Pat Listach, and Ricky Bones to The Bronx) but was nonetheless awarded a World Series ring when the Yankees topped the Atlanta Braves in the ensuing Fall Classic. After stints with the Brewers (1996-97), Atlanta Braves (1998-99), and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2000-01), Williams made his way back to the Yankees in 2001, where he’d play parts of two more seasons before ending his career with the Florida Marlins (2003) and New York Mets (2004-05).
Over a 14-year career, Williams batted .255 with 85 home runs and 365 RBI. Though he did not appear in any games, he earned another World Series ring with the Marlins, who bested Jeter and the Yankees in six games. Williams also partook in the Braves’ run to the 1999 World Series, where they were beaten in four by his original employers. Of note, Williams batted .389 during Atlanta’s four-game NLDS win over the Houston Astros and he scored the winning run on Kenny Rogers’ bases-loaded walk to Andruw Jones in the 11th inning of the clinching NLCS game against the Mets. Williams had opened the frame with a double before he was advanced to third on a Bret Boone sacrifice, leading to consecutive intentional walks to close out the series.
Williams is survived by his wife Liliana.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags