|Hall of Famer Dick Williams passes away||07.07.11 at 5:40 pm ET|
Dick Williams – the man who managed the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox of 1967 – died Thursday at his Las Vegas-area home of a brain aneurysm. He was 82.
Williams also led the Oakland A’s to two of their three 1970s World Series titles and led the 1984 Padres to their first-ever National League pennant.
In 21 years of managing, Williams compliled a record of 1571-1451 and earned a place in Cooperstown by making a career of turning losers into winners. He took a ninth-place Red Sox team in 1966 and led them to 92 wins, 20 more than the previous season. The Red Sox came within one win of capturing the ’67 World Series, losing 4-3 to St. Louis.
He was the legendary manager of the A’s, leading them to World Series victories over the Reds and Mets. He was also at the helm of the Angels, Expos and Mariners, where he was fired 56 games into the 1988 season.
Williams was inducted into the baseball hall of fame by the Veterans Committee in Dec. 2007 and elected to wear a A’s cap, despite his numerous run-ins with former Oakland owner Charlie Finley, who hired him before the 1971 season, the first of five straight AL West titles.
The Red Sox issued the following press release on Thursday, hours after Williams died of a ruptured aneurysm:
The Boston Red Sox mourn the loss of Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, who passed away earlier today at the age of 82 at a hospital near his home in Henderson, NV, due to a ruptured aortic aneurysm. The club extends its deepest sympathies to Dick’s wife, Norma, and his extended family, as well as the countless many he influenced and inspired throughout the baseball community.
The Red Sox held a moment of silence in the memory of Dick Williams prior to tonight’s game at Fenway Park.
“Dick Williams inherited a Red Sox team that had finished with a losing record in eight consecutive seasons and immediately set a new tone and course,” Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry said. “Dick was an outstanding leader who demanded excellence and accountability from all his players, leading the Impossible Dream Red Sox to the 1967 AL Pennant that forever changed baseball in New England.
“I had the fortune of working with Dick when he managed the West Palm Beach Tropics, a team in the Senior Professional Baseball Association that I owned. Dick’s spirit, passion and acumen were still evident and he helped make the Tropics the winningest team in the league. We will dearly miss Dick Williams.”
“Dick Williams left a stamp across the game of baseball, but he will always be remembered as the man who led the 1967 Red Sox,” said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. “As a college freshman at Harvard University, I fell in love with the Impossible Dream team that Dick piloted. His players adopted the same fearless, take-no-prisoners mentality that Dick brought to the field each day, making us all proud to be Red Sox fans. We are forever indebted to Dick for his leadership of the 1967 team and his contributions to the phenomenon we know as Red Sox Nation.”
Red Sox Manager Terry Francona said, “I played under Dick with the Expos and, even at a young age, I was impressed by his knowledge of the game. He was always thinking two innings ahead and was never caught off-guard.”
Legendary Red Sox left-fielder and fellow Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski shared his thoughts on the passing of his former manager: “One of the best managers I ever played for, Dick was very instrumental in accomplishing the Impossible Dream.”
Former Red Sox infielder and Jimmy Fund Chairman Mike Andrews also remembered Williams.
“Dick was more responsible for me getting to the Major Leagues than anyone. I played for him at Triple-A Toronto and we came to the Red Sox together. He could get the best out of me. He was a tough manager but a very good one. I am so happy he was alive when we was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Definitely one of the most knowledgeable baseball people I’ve ever known, in 1967 he did it his way and was the reason we jelled as a team. He literally ‘drove the machine’ and we responded.”
“He was a tough guy, but a smart guy,” former Red Sox outfielder/first baseman and current Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson noted. “He wasn’t a good manager, he was a great manager. He had great instincts on and off the baseball field, and you always knew where you stood. He was so instrumental in us winning that 1967 Pennant.”
Williams’ 13-year Major League career as a utility player concluded with two seasons in Boston from 1963-64. He spent the next two seasons as manager of the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate in Toronto before taking the helm in Boston for three campaigns from 1967-69. In his Big League managerial debut, Williams led the Red Sox to the Impossible Dream American League Championship, guiding the club to a 92-70 record following the team’s ninth-place finish in 1966.
Williams totaled a 260-217 record (.545) in his three seasons as Boston’s skipper and managed 3,023 Major League games overall, including stints with Oakland (1971-73), California (1974-76), Montreal (1977-81), San Diego (1982-85) and Seattle (1986-88). He managed three different teams to the pennant, including the 1967 Red Sox, back-to-back World Championships with the Athletics in 1972 and 1973, and the National League Champion Padres in 1984. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2008.
Williams is survived by his wife, three children and five grandchildren.
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