08/17/2002 4:35 pm ET
Williams' streak stopped at 11
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Bernie Williams has had an interesting week in the chasing-legends department.
He has clipped past Yankees icons Don Mattingly, Tony Lazzeri, Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle.
But when it came to those true immortals, Pinky Higgins and Walt Dropo ... sorry.
"I'm somewhat disappointed to have come so close. But it was a great run," Williams said after coming within one of the all-time record of 12 consecutive hits in New York's 8-3 win over Seattle.
The Yankees center fielder began Saturday's game against the Mariners in scintillating fashion, dribbling a first-inning single through the shortstop hole for his 11th consecutive hit, a streak that started Wednesday with a 14-inning single that gave the Yankees a win at Kansas City.
However, a third-inning grounder in the same general area landed in third baseman Jeff Cirillo's glove and ended Williams' streak just one shy of the Major League record set by Higgins, of the Red Sox, in 1938, and matched by Dropo, of the Tigers, 14 years later.
Earlier on this trip, Williams continued to scale up the Yankees' all-time lists by passing Mattingly in career homers, Lazzeri in career hits, Mantle in career doubles and Jackson in consecutive times reaching base. Williams, who walked twice during his streak, reached base in 13 consecutive plate appearances, one more than Jackson did in 1978.
Sometime between hits Nos. 10 and 11, Williams found out about the record he was unwittingly chasing.
After his 4-for-4 in Friday night's game, he had declined details. But after he'd returned to the team hotel, his phone began ringing.
"I learned [about the record] from calls with friends," Williams said. "People were watching the game, and they were all, 'Hey, you know what?'
"I tried to keep it out of my mind," he added, conceding, "I did think about it a couple of times.
"I had a lot of fun with it, although I certainly didn't expect it to last. It was one of those things -- either it happens or it doesn't."
It came within, really, a short putt of happening.
After fighting off a couple of tough Ryan Franklin two-strike pitches in the first, he hit a hard grounder into the hole between Cirillo and shortstop Carlos Guillen.
"That was a tough AB," Williams said. "I got an off-speed pitch, and I was able to hit it through the hole."
Said his manager, Joe Torre: "He found another hole. He's staying back great, not trying to pull the ball."
Two innings later, Williams drilled a similar grounder in the same opposite-field direction, but a few feet closer to Cirillo, who cleanly fielded the ball and threw him out.
"[Franklin] made a good pitch in a good situation," Williams said. "It was another off-speed pitch, but I couldn't drive it as much."
Thus his hit streak ended at 11, and so did the on-base streak at 13, three shy of the Major League record set by Ted Williams over six days in 1957.
After flying out in the fifth, Bernie Williams came back with an eighth-inning double and finished the day 2-for-5, raising his average to .339.
The streak progressively gained meaning for Williams. He always goes all-out, yet still seemed to find a new level of exertion as he desperately tried to outrun Cirillo's throw for an infield single.
When the ball beat him, the SAFECO Field sellout crowd let out easily its loudest roar of the weekend.
That elicited a smile from Williams as he trotted back to the dugout.
"Yes, I was reacting to the crowd," he said. "They seemed really happy to see me make an out. Obviously everyone was as aware of it as I was."
And as disappointed by the end of the roll, decibel levels notwithstanding.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.