Hall of Fame baseball manager Williams dead at 82

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The Red Sox had finished ninth in the 10-team American League the previous year, helping form Williams‘ reputation as a master of the turnaround.

“One of the best managers I ever played for, Dick was very instrumental in accomplishing the Impossible Dream,” Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski said in a statement released as the Red Sox hosted the Orioles.

Williams also took over a last-place team in Montreal and helped build that club into a playoff team. Williams was fired in September 1981, just before the Expos made their only playoff appearance.

He then led the Padres to their first playoff berth and first NL pennant in 1984. San Diego lost to Detroit in five games in the Series that year.

“He knew how to win,” said Rangers pitching coach Andy Hawkins, who pitched for Williams on the Padres. “He got the most out of his people, he demanded the most out of his people and he got it. He handled his pitching staff real well, I ended up throwing real well for him. I liked him as a manager, I sure did. He was a tough man to break in for, but as a veteran, he was great to play for.”

Gwynn said he found out the hard way that if a player made a mistake and didn’t own up to it, Williams would pull him out of a game.

He said he didn’t hustle on a grounder to second with a runner on third with two outs in a game at Cincinnati early in the 1984 season. The second baseman dropped the ball but picked it up and had time to throw out Gwynn.

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. He wasn’t afraid of anybody. He wasn’t afraid if you had (service) time or success. Goose (Gossage), (Steve) Garvey, (Graig) Nettles, if he needed to say anything to anyone, he would. Again, lesson learned. That didn’t happen again.”

Williams had an overall record of 1,571-1,451 in 21 seasons, also spending time with the Angels and Seattle Mariners. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008 after being elected by the Veterans Committee.

“Well, he wasn’t like they are today. He could raise some hell,” said baseball lifer Don Zimmer, who played with Williams in Brooklyn in the 1950s. “Great manager. He really knew what he was doing.”

Williams was back in Cooperstown, N.Y., last month when he managed both teams at the Hall of Fame Classic at Doubleday Field in a legends contest featuring six Hall of Famers and 20 former major league stars.

One of his former players in Montreal, Hall of Famer Andre Dawson was there and said he was shocked when he heard the news Thursday that one of his favorite managers ever had died.

“He was just one of those guys. I respected him, I admired him for the simple reason that as a young player I didn’t feel pressure underneath him,” Dawson said. “He just said, ‘Have fun, go out and play the game to the best of your ability.’”

There was a moment of silence with Williams‘ picture on the scoreboard at Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium before Thursday night’s games. Williams previously worked for the Yankees, and his son became a scout for the team. He broke into the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Williams also played 13 years in the majors for the Dodgers, Orioles, Indians, A’s and Red Sox. He had a .260 career average with 70 homers and 331 RBIs as mostly a part-time player. He retired after the 1964 season and soon began his career as a manager. There will be no funeral services held.

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