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Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams: 1929-2011

Jul 7, 2011, 4:20 PM EDT

Dick Williams

Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, who led the Oakland A’s to two of their three 1970s World Series championships and led the 1967 Red Sox and 1984 Padres to pennants, died of a brain aneurysm at his home in Las Vegas today. He was 82.

In 21 years of managing, Williams won 1571 games to 1451 losses.  In addition to his pennant-winning teams he managed the California Angels, the Montreal Expos and the Seattle Mariners. He was fired from his last big league job 56 games into the 1988 season.

His signature as a manager? Turning losers into winners.  He was at the helm for quick turnarounds in Boston, Oakland, Montreal and San Diego. He was a versatile manager, winning with different kinds of teams and different kinds of rosters.

He was a colorful manager, who had a good bit of confidence in himself and would, on a number of occasions, clash with upper management, most notably Charlie Finely in Oakland.  Despite that, he wears an A’s cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

An extremely thorough biography of Williams can be read here.

Farewell, skip.

  1. dodger88 - Jul 7, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    Expos made a mistake firing Williams in mid ’81; while they made it to the postseason that year they floundered the next few seasons under Bill Virdon. I think Williams would have taken them further. RIP.

    • guypatsfan - Jul 8, 2011 at 9:38 AM

      I lived in Montreal at the time of Williams’ tenure as the Expos’ manager, and I agree with what you say. Williams was largely responsible for turning around the Expos from losers to winners, seemingly almost overnight. Firing him was the biggest mistake they made. in 1982 the Expos’ lineup was loaded top-to-bottom, and I have no doubts Williams would have taken them to the World Series, as he had with other teams. Dick Williams will always be fondly remembered in Montreal, as he is in all the other cities he managed in.

  2. The Common Man - Jul 7, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Oh hell. Rest in peace, Dick.

  3. Jack Marshall - Jul 7, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Dick Williams gave me the best summer of my life in 1967, and he managed that team as well as any manager ever managed any squad. He also was incredibly lucky; all his gut moves seemed to pay off. The one that didn’t: starting Lonborg, on two days rest, in Game 7 against Bob Gibson in the ’67 Series, with a rested Lee Stange available to start. His reasoning, “You go down with your ace”, was such traditional wisdom bullshit from a guy who was never afraid to buck convention. I never understood that.

    But God, Dick—I owe you big time. What a season. And what a career. I’m going to play “The Impossible Dream” now, just for you.

    • heelbostonfan - Jul 7, 2011 at 8:30 PM

      A true giant in Red Sox history has passed away. The Sox had been a laughingstock for years. But Williams came in and changed the entire culture. He stripped Carl Yastrzemski of the team captaincy. He made the pitchers play volleyball in between drills instead of shagging fly balls. He kicked Ted Williams off the premises for talking hitting with the pitchers when he wasn’t supposed to. And he told the press, “We’ll win more than we’ll lose.”

  4. philiplewis1 - Jul 7, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    I remember (although vaguely) watching Dick play for the Fort Worth Cats in the 1950’s I believe. Quite a career he had.

  5. havlicekstoletheball - Jul 7, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Dick Williams made the Red Sox into winners. And he had to fight Yawkey and a pile of lousy attitudes to do it.

    What I wouldn’t have given for a 40-year old Dick Williams meeting Manny on the top step after Ramirez loafed on a grounder or let a fly ball drop…

    • heelbostonfan - Jul 7, 2011 at 8:32 PM

      Like when Yaz refused to run out a ground ball in 1969. Williams pulled Yaz from the game and fined him, but sadly Yawkey and Yaz were best friends. Williams was fired with ten days left in the season.

    • guypatsfan - Jul 8, 2011 at 9:54 AM

      Manny would have had permanent scars on his butt from Williams’ spikes! One thing about the old-school managers is that, while you could make a mistake on the field, you never, ever dogged it!

  6. danberman4 - Jul 7, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    I loved those A’s teams of the early 1970s. He had to mange all those egos and Finley, too. And he won wherever he went.

  7. richm2256 - Jul 7, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    If there were any singl person responsible for the birth of what we now call “Red Sox Nation”, it was THIS man, in 1967.

    What Dick Williams got that group of players to do, changed the very face of baseall in Boston’s history.

    He went on to do great things in Oakland, and several other places.

  8. Jack Marshall - Jul 8, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    Oh…Jerry Remy was talking about that fiasco in Seattle when nobody noticed that there were only three balls on a walk tghe other day. “When I was with the Angels,” Remy said, “Dick Williams would walk up to the guys on the bench, point to one and say, “What’s the count? How many outs? Who’s on base?” And you better have had the right answer.” That’s a pro.

  9. APBA Guy - Jul 8, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    Ray Fosse was reminiscing about Dick Williams during a lot of the A’s game, telling stories of Williams’ standing up for the team against some of Finley’s orders. Evidently Finley would call Williams and tell him to pay such and such, or send a runner to the dugout and do something, and Williams routinely ignored him. Finally it was too much for Williams who announced he was leaving prior to the 1973 series. The fact that he had a lifetime winning record speaks to his skills, but to listen to Fosse talk about him standing up for what he believed was right and for the good of the team was truly inspiring. After Earl Weaver, Williams was my second favorite manager. RIP.

  10. mgflolox - Jul 8, 2011 at 3:43 AM

    He should have been in the HOF about 10 years sooner than he actually was, but, thankfully, he made it while he was still alive to enjoy it.

  11. hoopmatch - Jul 8, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    I remember him with the Padres in 1984. Most inspiring series I ever saw was Padres beating Cubs in 1984 NLCS. They lost first two games, then won next three. I moved from California back home to Michigan that year and wound up rooting for San Diego against my hometown Tigers in the World Series.

  12. guypatsfan - Jul 8, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    Dick Williams, Sparky Anderson, Earl Weaver, Gene Mauch, Walter Alston, Bobby Cox – old-school managers the likes of which you just don’t see anymore. Gruff, plain-speaking guys who were buried in the minors where they learned the game. They’d stick up for their players and kick their butts when they weren’t performing, and the players would run through walls for them. They don’t make them like these guys anymore, other than Jim Leyland of Detroit.

    RIP, Dick Williams.

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