His home run had fallen just short of reaching the bleachers, but the cheers that came from those same seats found their intended target.
"We want Bernie. We want Bernie."
Bernie Williams heard the chants. He listened, soaked them in and acknowledged them by tipping his cap.
If this was his final game in Yankee pinstripes, his final chance to patrol center field at Yankee Stadium, he wanted to remember every second.
And he helped give Yankees fans a night to remember.
"It felt great, outstanding," said Williams, who hit a two-run homer Sunday night as the New York Yankees pounded the San Diego Padres 9-3 in Game 2 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the World Series.
"There's nowhere else that I've been in the world that has the same atmosphere that we have here."
Williams, the Yankees' All-Star center fielder, is eligible to become a free agent after the season. His uncertain future in New York has been a hot topic in the Series and one which will only gain momentum if the Yankees are able to close out this special season with a world championship.
But while Yankees fans have been wringing their hands, Williams has remained focused on his job.
"That situation didn't distract me during the season and I would be a fool to let it distract me during the playoffs or the World Series," Williams said. "I can't think about my future because this is y future right now."
Williams and the Yankees were hitting on all cylinders Sunday night as they won their sixth straight World Series game with ease. Backed by a 16-hit attack and solid defense, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez pitched seven strong innings before the Yankees packed for San Diego, looking to sweep.
Rookie Ricky Ledee made his second straight start of the Series in left for the Yankees, and again came through with another 2-for-3 performance.
"I think everyone was surprised he even made an out tonight," Williams said of Ledee.
Williams was unable to agree to more than a one-year contract with the Yankees last winter, and now with an AL batting title this season added to his resume, his price tag could be too high for even the Yankees.
"I don't want to talk about that right now," Williams said sternly when asked if he had thought about it possibly being his last home game with the Yankees. "Right now I'm focusing on the World Series."
Ledee rounded out a deadly bottom part of the Yankees' batting order. New York's 6-9 hitters - Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Jorge Posada and Ledee -- went a combined 8-for-11 with three runs scored and four RBIs in the first five innings. Posada hit a two-run homer in the fifth to put New York ahead 9-1.
If Williams is leaving town for big bucks, as many suspect, Ledee could help fill the void.
"I would like to keep Bernie," said Ledee, who could have been speaking on behalf of Yankee fans everywhere. "Even though if he leaves I might play center field."
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