Demanding taskmaster guided Mariners for three seasons and won two World Series with the Oakland A's.
Dick Williams, who guided three different franchises to the World Series and ended his Hall of Fame managing career with a three-year stint with the Mariners, died Thursday. He was 82.
Williams died from a ruptured aortic aneurysm in Las Vegas, the Hall of Fame said.
“We are extremely saddened by the sudden loss of Dick Williams, a Hall of Fame manager whose commitment to the game was legendary,” said Jane Forbes Clark, the chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “He was an intense leader on the field and a gracious member of the Hall of Fame family, who loved returning to Cooperstown.”
The demanding Williams is one of two managers to win pennants with three teams, joining Hall of Famer Bill McKechnie.
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But he had his biggest success during three tumultuous seasons in Oakland in the 1970s. Williams led the Athletics to 101 wins and a division title his first year in 1971 before being swept by Baltimore in the AL championship series.
He then won World Series titles the next two years with Charley Finley’s brash team led by Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter as the A’s became the first team to repeat since the 1961-62 Yankees.
But fed up with Finley’s meddling style of ownership, Williams resigned after the 1973 title instead of sticking around for what turned out to be a third straight championship season.
Before coming to Oakland, Williams was part of Boston’s memorable “Impossible Dream” team in 1967 that won the pennant for the first time since 1946 before losing the World Series in seven games to St. Louis.
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.
“Dick Williams’ lasting legacy will be his innate ability to lead, turning franchises into winners wherever he managed,” Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said. “No one wore the mantle of ‘Hall of Famer’ more proudly than Dick. We will miss him in Cooperstown.”
Williams also led the San Diego Padres to their first playoff berth and first NL pennant in 1984 before that team lost to Detroit in five games in the Series.
Williams had an overall record of 1,571-1,451 in 21 seasons, also spending time with the Angels, Montreal Expos and Mariners. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008 after being elected by the Veterans Committee.
In Seattle, Williams managed from 1986 to 1988, compiling a 159-192 record. After his three seasons, he ranked second only to Darrell Johnson in franchise victories. That was a commentary on the sad state of early Mariners baseball as much as Williams’ managing ability.
He now ranks fourth behind Lou Piniella, Jim Lefebvre and Johnson.
Williams was fired June 6, 1988, when the Mariners were mired in last place at 23-33.
Williams once conceded that he was demanding, and that his old-school style wouldn’t work today.
“I’d get fired within a week,” he said in an interview a few years ago with The Palm Beach Post. “My style of play doesn’t fit in with all these millionaires now.
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 RBI as mostly a part-time player. He retired after the 1964 season and soon began his career as a manager.
No funeral services will be held.