Sunday, January 18, 2015

#137 - Dick Williams

Dick Williams

I like the manager cards.  The manager in baseball is a visible part of the team and, with all the pitching changes we have more recently, the game.  At this point, Dick Williams had some success as a manager, but his Hall of Fame credentials were still out in front of him.

Dick came up as a utility guy with the Dodgers and then bounced around. I've heard it said that utility guys sitting on the bench can become good managers because they can sit there and soak up the game.  Of course, that was said when Dick, Sparky Anderson and Tony LaRussa were so successful in the 70s and 80s.  It seems the catcher is more in vogue now with Bruce Bochy, Mike Scioscia and Mike Matheny having success.

Dick's first managing job was to take over the Red Sox in 1967 after they'd finished 9th (out of 10) in 1966.  Of course, The Impossible Dream Sox took the Cardinals to the 7th game of the World Series that year.  Expectations caught up as he was let go in 3rd place in mid-1969 after finishing 4th in 1968.

Charlie Finley hired him in 1971 and he was a good fit for the raucous A's.  Dick basically threw them out there and let them play.  They won the Division, but fell to the Orioles in the ALCS in 1971. As you see Dick in his shiny satin jacket, he's getting ready to win the 1st of 2 straight World Series titles in Oakland.

Finley's meddling with the team was more than Dick could take.  There were the little things, like letting Vida Blue hold out and mess up his 1972 season and interfering with the roster.  However, when Finley pulled the Mike Andrews Incident in the 1973 World Series, Dick Williams did the unthinkable:  he decided to leave the A's at the end of the year.  The A's were still the class of the league and won the Series again in 1974, but Williams decided he didn't need to be a part of it.

He spent parts of 3 forgettable years with a bad Angels team. Then he was hired in Montreal where they had talent, but didn't have any kind of winning tradition.  It took a couple of years, but by 1979 they had their 1st winning season and in 1981 Dick became the only manager to take the Expos to the post-season.  He also got the Padres to their first World Series (and only winning game in the World Series) in 1984.  He then had 3 bad seasons with the pre-Griffey Mariners (who didn't?) before being done.

Dick got 4 teams to the playoffs and was a Rick Monday homer from getting all of them to the World Series.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager in 2008.

I'll always associate him with the A's.  I can imagine him hanging out in his office, letting all hell run loose in the clubhouse all the while figuring out how to cuss Finley out when he called with another meddlesome idea.  No telling how long the A's would have stayed in the playoffs if Finley hadn't run Williams, and then his best players, off.


  1. That Rick Monday home run is still painful.

  2. This is one of the few cards I ever traded for, I was 8 and living in Oakland, that I still have that brings back those childhood years at school and the playground.
    I remember when I heard the news that Williams had left the A's, I wondered "He can't leave! How will the A's do without him?"
    It took me a while to fully understand Finley's shenanigans to understand William ' s decision.

  3. It wasn't just Finley. He couldn't or didn't want to keep up with free agent salaries. You can't hate Finley and Steinbrenner and still like Marvin Miller. Miller made them possible (even necessary).