MasterCard recently launched a new program Priceless New York, which allows cardholders to choose from specifically New York experiences on the MasterCard website including culinary, sports, music & entertainment, shopping and travel & about town. To help introduce the program MasterCard took over Military Island in Times Square and gave fans a sample of some of the “extraordinary experiences, exclusive offers and privileged access to events,” that will be available. Considering this is the Big Apple, the kick-off event had a definite Yankees flavor. Fans were able to meet Yankee great Bernie Williams, take batting practice with fellow former Yankees Bucky Dent and Mike Torrez, they could dine at world-renowned chef Aarón Sanchez’s travelling tacqueria Tacombi, enjoy a live musical performances from Jazz at Lincoln Center and interact with an exhibit from The New York Botanical Garden.
The Priceless Cities campaign is being promoted via television, radio, print and extensively through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. One of the social media campaigns is Check In To the Ballgame where starting August 1st, fans can check in to Yankee’s seats hidden around the city using Facebook Places in order to win VIP Tickets to Yankee Stadium.
To learn more about this event, we caught up with Bernie Williams to ask him about his storied career as a lifelong New York Yankee, his passion for music, his thoughts on Derek Jeter getting his 3000th hit and then skipping the All Star Game and whether he thinks Jorge Posada is getting a fair shake.
Thanks for joining us Bernie, can you tell us a little about the event?
I’m happy to be partnered with MasterCard who is launching this great event called Priceless New York and we are offering card holders some great opportunities to be exposed to some really great experiences. I had the opportunity to be in Time Square today giving fans a little sample, like batting practice with Bucky Dent and Mike Torres and playing a little jazz with some of the great jazz ensembles from the Lincoln Center. It was just a sample of some of the really cool stuff available. The best thing to do is to check out the website www.mastercard.com/pricelessnewyork/ it’s got a lot of great culinary experiences, art experiences and a lot of sports and other cool things to check out.
You represent a combination of New York sports and New York culture as a Yankee legend as well as being an accomplished musician. Do you consider yourself a baseball player who did music, or a musician who played baseball?
I don’t know, I think both relationships were symbiotic. I think a lot of the things I learned in music in high school I could apply them in my training in baseball. Some of the stuff I got from my experience playing baseball in the big leagues I am able to bring full circle, applying it to the musical career playing now on stage. Coincidentally, it is one of the themes of my new book “Rhythms of the Game” which came out yesterday, I really talk about the symbiotic relationship between music on stage with the performing artist and the performing athletes on the field and my experience with the Yankees and how I was able to incorporate some of the things I learned into music. I hope it’s a fulfilling read that hopefully helps a lot of people talking about the mental aspect of both.
They do say musicians want to be athletes and athletes want to be musicians, and you have the best of both worlds.
When I was playing baseball I got a chance to meet some great musicians, got a chance to sit with Garth Brooks, Bruce Springsteen and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi and it was a great experience. Cool thing is they were as excited to meet me as I was to meet them, definitely a lot of mutual respect and I really appreciated that.
Another big part of the event is food, with Chef Aaron Sanchez having his Traveling Tacqueria there, being Puerto Rican, what do you look forward to most when you go back home?
Well Puerto Rico is certainly my homeland and I miss it tremendously when I am here, but I have made New York my second home. When I go there though, the things that I miss the most are the festivities around Christmas time. It’s just a great time to go out there and enjoy the music, the food and the culture, and those guys know how to party. They go out and start Christmas right after Thanksgiving and don’t stop partying until like the 2nd week of February at some point. It’s a great time down there; I really enjoy it a lot.
You signed very young with Yankees, how important was it to play your whole career with the organization that signed you?
Having played my whole career with the Yankees was great because first, you don’t have to worry about moving to different places and different cities. Establishing yourself is one of the hardest things to do as a working man, moving from city to city, from town to town looking for the best offer. I was very fortunate in the sense that I was able to play my whole career and establish myself and my family here in New York. It was so great that we actually moved here and made New York our home full time. It’s great and obviously a testament to the fact that I have been very blessed and very fortunate to play for one team my entire career and no better team to do that than the New York Yankees.
The Yankees are a very polarizing team, their fans love them and every other team’s fans pretty much hate them. But you always seemed to be the one core player the opposing fans respected, what do you attribute that to?
I think that for the most part I kept my mouth shut for my whole career. I tried to keep my name out of the media by going ahead and doing my job day in day out tried to stay consistent and play the game the right way, not a lot of talking. I just tried to be reliable and consistent and just focused on being the best player I could be. I think that for me that really worked, I was able to be a part of the team for the better part of 16 years, a part of some great championship teams and I was able to develop some great relationships.
One of your former teammates, Derek Jeter just got his 3000th hit, what was it like to see your former teammate be the first Yankee to do that?
It was awesome, I am very proud of him. He has been the face of the franchise for 15 years and he is just an awesome player. He has certainly earned the right to be a part of the club, a very exclusive 3000 hit club. I think when everything is all said and done, he will go down as one of the greatest players to wear that Yankees uniform. I’m proud to say I was able to play alongside him my entire career, I was very fortunate to have that opportunity.
What do you think of his decision to skip the All Star Game?
I think he was putting the team ahead of himself. It would be easy for him to go out there and get all the adulation and the fans love and have it be all about him. I think knowing him, he’s putting the next half of the season ahead of the game. He has been going through some injuries and he needed that time to heal and really be 100% so he can have a good second half. If he has a good second half, a lot of people are going to forget about that All Star Game.
Another player associated with you guys during your run is Jorge Posada, why do you think he doesn’t get the same benefit of the doubt as the aging superstar that Derek Jeter does?
I think it’s just that they are two different players. Derek has always had that allure to him but Jorge is a superstar in his own right. I think in terms of popularity Derek is the darling of the city, but for Jorge, people who know baseball know how valuable he has been to the franchise. He is definitely one of those guys who has been an integral part of that core of players that have remained consistent Yankees for the last 15 years. He is in no way shape or form any less, as far as that group of players that has cemented the dynasty of the team and how successful the team has been over these years. He has been a big part of that.
You mentioned you are very involved with your music now, but are you looking to get into baseball in any other capacity, maybe managing or broadcasting?
I don’t know about that, right now I am having a great time in music, kind of like reinventing myself. Doing something seemingly completely opposite of what I was doing in baseball. I’m having a lot of fun with that, I would not not think about being a manager or coach at some later time, but right now I have a unique opportunity and a very small window to do this thing to the best of my ability. So I am just taking a chance and having a lot of fun as a part of this stuff.
Well continued success and thank you for joining us, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Well Mastercard Cardholders check the website, I think you will find some great stuff there, a lot of great unique experiences you will really enjoy. I think it’s going to be a pretty cool thing to do.
You can also check out my website, w www.bernie51.com for more information including book signings for Rhythms of the Game
Below, the participants of the event are introduced and Bernie Williams performs as a special guest with the Myron Walden Sextet.
Video Credit: Jeremy Flores via www.bernie51.com