02/25/2003 8:44 AM ET
Old-school all the way
Hall candidate Williams a 'manager's manager'
Before the term "player's manager" became such a catch phrase and then practically a requirement, there was Dick Williams.
Walk into the clubhouse of a team Williams managed -- any one of the six -- and you knew who was in charge. He wasn't there to be liked by any of the players. He was there to make sure they did things right, because by doing things right they could be champions.
And in many cases they were. Williams managed four World Series teams, leading the Oakland A's to World Series titles in 1972 and '73, and ranks 17th all-time in managerial victories with 1,571.
With that resume behind him, Williams is among the 15 candidates on the Veterans Committee's Composite Ballot for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Results of the election will be announced Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET, and will be carried live on MLB Radio.
Padres manager Bruce Bochy, who played for Williams on San Diego's 1984 National League championship team, said Williams could be an intimidating presence in the clubhouse and in the dugout -- but there was a method to it.
"Dick just had tremendous respect from his players," said Bochy, the backup catcher on the '84 team. "He was all about winning and doing it the right way. He believed in playing hardball and playing it the way it should be played. He was a stickler for the little things that it takes to win ballgames.
"He was as demanding a manager as I ever had. He was very demanding that you knew how to play the game, how to get a bunt down or advance a runner. He really believed a Major League ballplayer should be able to do those things. If you didn't execute, he was going to have a problem with you."
All that considered, Bochy considers Williams a strong candidate for induction into the Hall of Fame.
"I think his track record speaks for itself, all that he accomplished as a manager, winning world championships," Bochy said.
Goose Gossage, the closer on that '84 NL championship club, took a similar endorsement a step further.
"If Tommy Lasorda's in, Dick Williams should be in," Gossage said.
The tempestuous Williams was consistent in his approach through a 21-year run as a manager that began when he took over the Boston Red Sox for the 1967 season, at age 37. All he did as a rookie manager was lead the Red Sox to their first World Series since 1946, a year after the '66 team had finished in ninth place in the American League.
Williams lasted two more years in Boston before his first change of uniforms. In 1971, Williams assumed the helm of the Oakland A's and led the colorful and talented dynasty to the first two of its three World Series titles. A's owner Charlie O. Finley also is a candidate for the Veterans Committee ballot. There are three major contributors to the A's dynasty of the '70s who made it to the Hall of Fame already: Jim "Catfish" Hunter (inducted in 1987), Rollie Fingers ('92) and Reggie Jackson ('93).
After stints with the Angels (1974-76) and the Expos (1977-81), Williams took over in San Diego in 1982, leading the Padres to back-to-back .500 seasons before taking them to the World Series in '84. The Padres won the NL West by 12 games and broke the hearts of the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, making him one of only two managers to win league titles with three different teams. The Padres lost to the Detroit Tigers in a five-game World Series.
Williams ended his tenure with the Padres after not reporting to Spring Training for the 1986 season. He hooked up with Seattle later that season and spent the better part of three seasons leading the Mariners in what was his last managerial job.
A Major Leaguer for 14 years, Williams compiled a .260 average, 70 homers and 331 RBIs with the Dodgers, Orioles, Indians, A's and Red Sox.
But it's what he did as a manager -- the five division titles and all the World Series history -- that makes him Hall of Fame material.
And the way he did it was old school, all the way.
"He was hard on younger players," says current Padres pitching coach Greg Booker, a reliever on the '84 Padres. "He demanded perfection. He didn't care if he was liked or not, as long as we put a winning product on the field.
"He wasn't there to be liked. He wasn't there to be a player's manager. That's what made him the manager he was."
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. The Associate Press contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By John Schlegel / MLB.com