Im really not a huge fan of Scott Millers body of work, but it looks like he had my favorite piece on Richard Hirschfeld Williams passing yesterday. Dick Williams put his onry little fingers on so many teams, i was kind of surprised he didn't get a thread. Maybe i missed it. The "Impossible Dream" in Boston. He won two rings with Oakland, and then walked away. He took the Padres to their first World Series, and gave the Expos, the Mariners, and the Angels their first taste of success. Nobody motivated a team like Dick Williams.
In their words...
"I must lead all of baseball as a target for behind-the-back verbal assaults," he wrote in No More Mr. Nice Guy. "I've been called mean, cruel, insensitive. I've been called a bully. I've been called a bastard and a son of a bitch." Those who could see through all that, and those whose skin was tough enough, also called him a baseball savant. "Dick Williams is the best manager I ever played for," Tim Flannery, former Padres utilityman and current Giants third-base coach, once said. "But as soon as he gets out of baseball, I'm going to run him over with my car."
He did not suffer fools gladly, and he did not tolerate threats to his authority. He was of a different age, a time before rookies were rushed to the majors, where managers are expected to provide on-the-job training. "Playing without the fundamentals is like eating without a knife and a fork," Williams once said. "You make a mess." If you knew Williams, the last thing you wanted to do was to make a mess around him. His expectations were through the roof. Few could meet them. "It was all business on Dick's side, and that's what I really loved about Dick Williams," Gossage said Thursday. "No nonsense, absolutely no nonsense. What you saw is what you got, and that's what I loved about Dick.”
"I thought he was a really good baseball man," Nolan Ryan said. "He wasn't tough to play for from my perspective. You knew his expectations and if you play the game the way it's supposed to be played, he didn't mess with you. The players who had problems were the ones who didn't work hard enough or didn't give 100 percent when they were out there."
"A lot of times, someone comes in and sets the direction for an organization and doesn't get credit for the winning that follows," Harold Reynolds said in a phone interview. "As much as some guys didn't like him, they appreciated what he did for them." "I'd say this: 95 percent of our pitchers didn't like Dick Williams," Reynolds said. His most notorious combatant was pitcher Mark Langston; Williams was fired just two day after Langston ripped his manager for leaving him in too long during a game in Kansas City. Williams fired back after he got canned, railing about "our so-called ace pitcher, who doesn't have a gut in his body."
One thing Reynolds didn't get, until years later, was what Williams was doing that first season, always jotting notes in a book. He asked Williams recently what the heck he was doing. Williams told Reynolds, "I had a check and balance system. I'd write down if someone did something positive or negative. That's how I decided who played the next year for me." Said Reynolds: "He'd done that all the way back to his days with the Red Sox. Something like, runner on second; if you take two swings and try to get him over and strike out, that was positive. You were doing what you were supposed to do. If you grounded out to third, that was negative. You were a losing player."
Williams went with the younger player whenever possible. He was fearless about putting kids in the game and would stand by them if he thought they had the talent, even if they initially faltered when establishing themselves. With that level of trust emanating from their authoritative skipper, rookies rarely fizzled on Williams. He not only gave prospects a chance, but more impressively he did it in a way that ensured they consistently reached their potential.
“He came to us at a very good time in our development and certainly for me as a young player full of talent … ,” Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson said. “We were young and needed to understand how to go about winning and take the final step to become a great team. He was very important in that. He demanded excellence.” “When Dick left, it was an odd termination,” Jackson said. “That was a weird deal, the Mike Andrews situation. We knew Dick was still a heck of a manager. It was really just a disagreement with ownership over the incident in the World Series and Dick stood up for the player.”
i wonder what Dick would think of this ....“I owe Dick a lot,” said Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who played for Williams in San Diego. “The city and the Padres owe him a lot. I think a lot of fans bought right into it like the players did, like in `82, when he first took over, then `84 when we went to the World Series. I think the fans realized that his style of play, the way he wanted us to play, could be successful if we bought in, and we did.” “Dick yanked me out of game right there in the third inning. He told me to go upstairs and get dressed and wait for him in his office. I had to wait for six innings or so, wondering, `What is he going to say?’ I said, `Hey, I screwed up, I didn’t run down the line.’ He said, `You’re damn right, that could have been the difference, we would have won the game, because if you were in right field, you make the play that Bobby Brown didn’t that cost us the game.’ It was classic Dick Williams.
RIP Dick Williams. Their will never be another like ya.
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