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Williams named All-Star coach
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06/23/2004  9:48 PM ET
Williams named All-Star coach
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Jimy Williams' easy-going style makes him a popular figure in the clubhouse. (David Phillip/AP)
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Jimy Williams got a phone call several weeks ago from Florida's Jack McKeon, asking him if he was interested in being a coach for the July 13 All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park.

"That's certainly an honor to be a part of an All-Star team," said Williams, who will be making his fifth appearance as an All-Star coach. "It's here in Houston so it should be a good time.

"It will be fun being around all those special players on both sides, having been in both leagues. I'll watch it and enjoy it."

This will be the second time he will be a part of the game at his home park. He also served as coach for the American League All-Stars in the 1999 game at Fenway Park, while he was managing the Red Sox.

"It's special because it's in Houston," Williams said. "It's special for the people in Houston. They had a Super Bowl here, a new basketball arena opening. The city has had some special events."

McKeon and Williams have never coached on the same staff, but have managed against each other.

"I just know him over the years," Williams said. "I have a lot of respect for him. He certainly did a great job with that team last year, and he's doing the same thing this year. There are no limitations in baseball on age. There are teams down in St. Petersburg, Fla., where you have to be 65 to get on the team."

The 60-year-old Williams was asked if he could picture himself still managing at McKeon's age of 73.

"Oh gosh, I don't know," he said. "I'm going to enjoy today for what it brings."

Williams is in his third season with Houston. The Astros have finished second in the National League Central in his first two years.

A former coach on Bobby Cox's staff in Atlanta, Williams managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1986-89, finishing second in the AL East in '87. He later managed the Red Sox from 1997-2001, finishing second three years in a row.

Boston fired Williams with a 65-53 record during the 2001 season.

The Astros spoke with respect of Williams.

"That's great," shortstop Adam Everett said when told of the announcement. "He's a great teacher, a great manager."

"He's an outstanding teacher," added third baseman Morgan Ensberg. "He's helped me tremendously on defense, and on offense. He's a very hands-on type of manager.

"It's great because you're chosen by your peers. To see that he's being asked by Jack, that's great. It's well-deserved."

The free-agent signings of pitchers Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens led some fans to believe the Astros were on the way to their first World Series. But the results so far have been somewhat disappointing.

There was even talk of Williams' job being in jeopardy, but owner Drayton McLane and general manager Gerry Hunsicker spoke out in support of their manager.

"Obviously, he makes out the lineup and we have to play," Everett said. "We have to get going."

Ensberg appreciated Williams' managing style.

"There is a method to everything he does," Ensberg said. "He doesn't fly off the handle. There is a reason why he has a gut feeling (about something)."

Gene Duffey is a contributing writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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