Manager Dick Williams who guided his teams to four pennants and two world championships has died, reportedly of a brain aneurysm. He was 82.
Williams managed 21 years in the big leagues, winnings 1,571 games for six teams, including back-to-back World Series titles for the Oakland Athletics, starting in 1972.
Five seasons earlier, he guided the 1967 Red Sox in their “Impossible Dream” season which resulted in an American League Championship.
Dodger fans may remember him as the skipper of the 1984 Padres that won the National League before bowing out to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
Williams broke in as a player with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, spending parts of the next five seasons with the club. In his Hall of Fame induction speech, the then-79 year-old Williams spoke fondly of his initial contact with Major League Baseball with the Dodgers.
“We’ve all had someone special who has pushed us along the way,” Williams said. “I had Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers organization who taught me the fundamentals of the game along with my first mentor, Bobby Bragan who’ll I’ll always be indebted to.”
Williams was born in St. Louis, Missouri and moved to Pasadena, California where he graduated from Pasadena high school.
He signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers as a free agent in 1947 and made his big league debut on June 10th, 1951.
During his playing career, he amassed over 1,000 games, finishing with 70 homers, 331 runs batted in and a .260 lifetime batting average.
But it would be as a manager that Williams would be best remembered.
On his big day at Cooperstown, Williams recalled how he got his start.
“Neil Mahoney…of the Red Sox gave my managerial start at Triple-A Toronto…and after winning the Governor’s Cup two years in a row, I was given the opportunity to manage the parent Red Sox in 1967…,” Williams explained.
After a three-year stint in Boston, Williams moved on to Oakland, managing under owner Charlie Finley for three first-place finishes, which Williams described as a “rollercoaster ride”.
Williams seemed most proud of his Athletics team, saying, “It was the best club I ever managed, with Hall of Famers like Reggie Jackson, the late Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter, and Rollie Fingers. I’m proud to be enshrined as an Oakland A.”
The final time Williams would pilot a team to the World Series was in 1984 with the San Diego Padres.
Through it all, Williams maintained a sense of humor. During his induction speech, he recounted a story about Padre player, Tim Flannery.
“Tim Flannery said that I was one of his best managers, but when he retired as a player, his goal was to run me over with his car,” recounted Williams. “Timmy and I laugh about it now, but I still keep track of every car he owns and where he lives.”
Williams seemed humbled at the dais during his induction speech.
“My one big wish if I was ever going to be elected into the Hall was that my wife, Norma, my children, my grandchildren, and my friends would be here with me to witness this glorious event,” Williams said, overcome with emotion. “It has all come true.”
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
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