In 1987, Bernie Williams was practicing switch-hitting when he spent a summer playing with the Oneonta Yankees.
Tonight, after rising into the majors and a career as a New York Yankees center fielder, Williams returns as guitarist with his all-star band to perform the sounds and rhythms of jazz, blues, rock and other genres in a style he prefers not to limit with a label.
“I consider it very eclectic,” Williams said. “It’s a little bit of everything.”
Williams will appear at the Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center on Market Street at 8 tonight, with doors opening at the Market Street venue at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40 or $50.
The band has been performing in the tri-state area, including in Albany, and Williams said he wanted to make a stop in Oneonta, of which he has “great memories.”
At least two veteran baseball fans — Sam Nader, former Oneonta Yankees owner, and John Brooks, a life-long Yankees fan from Oneonta — plan to be at tonight’s concert.
“I can’t wait — this is going to be exciting,” said Brooks, a retired owner of Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q, a concert sponsor. Brooks said he heard Williams perform at the new Yankees stadium when it opened in 2009 and has a Williams autograph from spring-training days.
During his 16-year seasons with the N.Y. Yankees, switch-hitting center fielder Williams played for four World Series championships. A .297 career hitter with 287 home runs, Williams won the American League batting crown in 1998 with a .339 average.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Williams said when he arrived in Oneonta in 1987, he was “a little depressed” because he felt the move had been a demotion. But during that season, he said, he raised his switch-hitting skills to levels that contributed to his success.