By taking over a ninth-place team and leading it to the pennant in his first year as a big-league manager in Boston, Dick Williams earned the reputation of being a turnaround artist that he built on later in Montreal and San Diego.
By taking over an emerging powerhouse in Oakland and leading the Athletics to back-to-back World Series titles to start a dynasty in the 1970s, Williams became a Hall of Famer.
Williams, one of only two managers ever to lead three teams to the World Series, died Thursday from a ruptured aortic aneurysm at a hospital near his home in Henderson, Nev., the Hall of Fame said. He was 82.
With his brash style, mustache and public feuds with owner Charlie Finley, Williams was the ideal manager for the A’s teams that won it all for him in 1972 and ’73 and then again the following year after he resigned.
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“He came to us at a very good time in our development and certainly for me as a young player full of talent ... ,” Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson said. “We were young and needed to understand how to go about winning and take the final step to become a great team. He was very important in that. He demanded excellence.”
He was able to get that out of his players in many of his stops, winning pennants with the Red Sox and San Diego as well as the championships in Oakland to join Hall of Famer Bill McKechnie as the only managers ever to take three franchises to the World Series.
Williams had an overall record of 1,571-1,451 in 21 seasons, also spending time with the Seattle Mariners, whom he managed from 1986-1988. 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.”
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. … The Athletics activated outfielder Josh Willingham and right-handed reliever Grant Balfour from the disabled list. Willingham had been out since June 18 with a left Achilles’ strain; Balfour was out since June 22 with a strained right oblique. … The short-handed Colorado Rockies lost outfielder Charlie Blackmon to a broken foot injured while running the bases in a game against Atlanta. … Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says he is skipping the All-Star Game next week because of soreness in his right triceps. Angels closer Jordan Walden will replace him … Royals catcher Jason Kendall, one of five players in major league history to catch 2,000 games, has re-torn rotator cuff muscles in his throwing shoulder and will require a second surgery that will sideline him at least through 2012. … Brewers All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun is out of the starting lineup for a fifth straight game, although tests showed no damage to his strained left calf. … The Reds called up prospect shortstop Zack Cozart and sent right-hander Edinson Volquez back to Triple-A Louisville.