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Former Yankee & Grammy-nominated artist Bernie Williams spreads the joy of music

NEW YORK — Former Yankee Bernie Williams traded in his baseball bat for a jazz guitar after he retired.

Now a Grammy-nominated artist, Williams is sharing the importance of art in education.

They may not be the lights of Yankee Stadium, but Williams says there are plenty of similarities between playing sports and playing music.

"The amount of pressure, the discipline and the commitment, the body of work and the work ethic that you need to have, all these things that are common in both disciplines," Williams said.

In fact, Williams co-authored the book "Rhythms of the Game: The Link Between Musical and Athletic Performance.”

But it's the link between arts and education that motivated him to perform at Horace Mann High School in the Bronx last week.

"I think music is really important to have as part of our education system because it opens ways of learning that you otherwise wouldn't have been able to have with conventional education," he said.

It's Williams' second performance at the high school. The first time, he played with his own band.

"He blew me away at the concert, he was so good," said steel band director Alan Bates.

After learning about the school's emphasis on music education, Williams said he wanted to come back to play with the school's steel band.

"They play kind of like the music that I kind of grew up with," Williams said, "All this Caribbean, kind of bluesy-jazzy kind of thing."

Students were amazed when they saw Williams is just as good on stage as he was at the plate.

"I play guitar too, and he definitely, he knows what he's doing, he's amazing," said Junior Donny Howard.

"I'm as awestruck now as I was as a kid watching him from the third base line," said Horace Mann Head of School Tom Kelly.

Kelly says Bernie's authenticity has helped validate the hard work of the student musicians and help others at the school find an appreciation for music.

"It's something for everybody and we should have more of it in the schools today and Bernie does a fabulous job of reminding everyone what we should be focusing on," Kelly said.

Even though his career numbers won't change, you could say Williams is still knocking it of the park, although striking a chord with the audience might be more appropriate.

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