Dick Williams’ career highlights

Dick Williams died last week at age 82. Many have already covered Williams life in various places, including our Bruce Markusen. I want to spend some time going over his career highlights as big league manager with the Red Sox, A’s, Angels, Expos, Padres and Mariners. I did similar things for Harmon Killebrew, Paul Splitorff, and Jim Northrup and feel the Hall of Fame skipper deserves similar treatment. (If not for SABR, this would’ve been done days ago.)

The following helps highlight memorable games he took part in and interesting incidents he was on hand for.

Boston years

April 12, 1967. Dick Williams makes his managerial debut when he fills in the lineup card for the Red Sox. Boston beats the White Sox, 5-4.

April 14, 1967. Red Sox starter Billy Rohr nearly tosses a no-hitter in his major league debut. He comes one out away from no-hitting the Yankees when Elston Howard singles against him. Williams blames himself, saying he never should’ve gone out to the mound to talk with Rohr just before Howard stepped to the plate, thinking it just made the kid nervous. Rohr will win only two more games in his major league career.

June 21, 1967. The Red Sox and Yankees have a nasty beanball war. At least a dozen security officials have to break up a brawl after the game’s third HBP. Red Sox 8, Yankees 1.

July 4, 1967. Sparky Lyle makes his big league debut as a member of Williams’ Red Sox. He pitches the last two innings in relief as the Red Sox lose to the Angels, 4-3.

Aug. 6, 1967. Dean Chance of the Red Sox tosses a rain-shortened five-inning no-hitter over the Red Sox. The Twins win, 2-0.

Aug. 18, 1967. Star outfielder Tony Conigliaro is hit by a pitch thrown by California’s Jack Hamilton in the bottom of the fourth inning. It hits him in the left cheekbone just below his eye socket and he’ll miss the rest of the season.

Aug. 27, 1967. Red Sox lose the second game of a doubleheader to the White Sox 1-0 in 11 innings on a walk-off walk. Reliever Bucky Brandon issues his fourth walk of the inning (to be fair, one was intentional) as the Red Sox lose the game despite allowing only three hits all day. Prior to the 11th inning, no Chicago player had made it past first base.

Aug. 29, 1967. Red Sox lose a 20-inning marathon to the Yankees, 4-3. Both teams score once in the 11th inning. Jim Bouton pitches five scoreless innings for the win.

Sept. 30, 1967. As one of the greatest pennant races in baseball history winds down, he Red Sox move into a tie for first place with the Twins by beating Minnesota, 6-4. Twins starter Jim Kaat has to leave the game with an arm injury early on. Carl Yastrzemski goes 2-for-4 with four RBI to help Boston win.

Oct. 1, 1967. The Red Sox complete their Impossible Dream season and claim their first pennant in 21 years when they defeat the Twins 5-3. Yaz again stars, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs to help sew up the pennant for Boston and the Triple Crown for himself.

Oct. 4, 1967: World Series Game One. The Red Sox lose when Bob Gibson of the Cardinals shuts them down for a 2-1 St. Louis win.

Oct. 5, 1967: World Series Game Two. Jim Lonborg allows only one hit, and Boston wins 5-0 to even the Series at one game apiece.

Oct. 11, 1967: World Series Game Six. With their backs to the wall down three games to two, Dick Williams makes an unorthodox move, tabbing Gary Waslewski as his starting pitcher. Waslewski, a rookie with only eight career starts to his name doesn’t get a decision but pitches well enough to keep Boston in it, and the Sox win 8-4.

Oct. 12, 1967: World Series Game Seven. The Red Sox lose the World Series as Gibson defeats them for the third time, 7-2. Jim Lonborg gives it his best effort on only two days rest, but it isn’t enough.

April 27, 1968. Tom Phoebus no-hits the Red Sox. He walks three batters, including two of the first three batters he faces. Baltimore 6, Boston 0.

Sept. 20, 1968. Lonborg surrenders the 536th and final home run Mickey Mantle ever hit.

June 14, 1969. Reggie Jackson has the best day of his life against Willliams’ Red Sox, driving in 10 runs in a 21-7 Oakland victory. Jackson goes 5-for-6 with two homers and a ground rule double.

July 27, 1969. Williams’ Red Sox beat the Seattle Pilots 5-3 in 20 innings. It’s 1-1 after 18 innings, then both score once in the 19th inning. In the final frame, Boston scores three times while Seattle can manage only one run.

Aug. 1, 1969. Williams benches star player Carl Yastrzemski and fines him $500 for not hustling.

Sept. 18, 1969. Carlton Fisk makes his big league debut when Williams uses him as catcher in the first game of a doubleheader.

Oakland years

May 11, 1971. Cleveland’s Steve Dunning hits a grand slam while defeating Williams’ A’s, 7-5. This will be the last slam by an AL pitcher until Felix Hernandez in 2008.

June 4, 1971. The A’s defeat the Senators 5-3 in 21 innings. The A’s lead 3-0 until the bottom of the ninth when the Senators score three runs on five singles. George Hendrick makes his big league debut in this game as a pinch hitter for the A’s, then sticks around to play center field. He goes 0-for-6 in the never-ending game.

July 9, 1971. Vida Blue and Rudy May face off in one of the greatest pitchers’ duels of the decade. Blue fans 17 while holding the Angels scoreless for 11 innings. May fans “only” 13 but also allows only three hits in 12 innings. It’s the last time both starting pitchers in one game have a Game Score in triple digits: 100 for Blue and 103 for May. The A’s win 1-0 in 20 innings.

July 28, 1971. The A’s lose 3-2 to the Orioles despite catching Brooks Robinson at his least Brooks-Robinson-ian. The many-time Gold Glove winner commits three errors in this game.

Oct. 5, 1971: ALCS Game Three. The Orioles complete their three-game sweep of the A’s in the ALCS, winning 5-3.

May 24, 1972. Pitcher Dan Rose of the Angels has a game for the ages: He homers in his first major league at bat and wins the game, 6-5 over Williams’ A’s. He never homers again and never wins another game.

June 4, 1972. The A’s have some measure of revenge for last year’s ALCS, sweeping the Orioles in a doubleheader with two shutouts, both by 2-0 scores.

June 18, 1972. It’s Mustache Night in Oakland. Owner Charles Finley offers everyone a bonus to grow a mustache for tonight’s game to cash in on the recent trend in facial hair for his team. All players except star hurler Vida Blue grow one. Williams and all his coaches do as well. Though many shave their hair immediately after the game, many prominent figures keep it, including Williams. This earns them the nickname The Mustache Gang. Oh, they beat the Indians, 9-0.

July 11, 1972. A Reggie Jackson single with one out in the ninth ruins a no-hitter for Boston’s Marty Pattin. Oakland loses 4-0 anyway.

Sept. 19, 1972. A 15-inning A’s-White Sox game sets records with 51 players involved, including 14 as pinch hitters. The White Sox win, 8-7. It’s 4-3 Chicago heading into the ninth, but the Sox score once, and then the A’s twice to make it 5-5 heading into overtime. Both squads score twice in the 13th inning.

Oct. 7, 1972: ALCS Game One. The A’s take on the Tigers, a team they’d brawled with six weeks earlier on Aug. 22. The A’s win 3-2 in 11 innings. It’s 1-1 after 10 frames. When Detroit scores one in the top of the 10th, the A’s respond with a pair in the bottom of the inning to win it.

Oct. 8, 1972: ALCS Game Two. Blue Moon Odom pitches a three-hitter for a 5-0 A’s win, but the real story is a bit of controversy. Star Oakland shortstop Bert Campaneris tosses his bat at Detroit pitcher Lerrin LaGrow in the seventh inning, an act that will earn him a suspension for the rest of the ALCS.

Oct. 11, 1972: ALCS Game Four. With the A’s up two games to one, the Tigers win to stay alive in a great game. The score is 1-1 after nine innings, and it looks like Williams has wrapped up his second pennant when the A’s score twice in the top of the 10th for a 3-1 lead. But the Tigers score three in the bottom half for the win, sending the series to a fifth and final game.

Oct. 12, 1972: ALCS Game Five. In the deciding game, the A’s win 2-1. The deciding run comes when Reggie Jackson steals home on a delayed double steal. However, Jackson injures himself in the process and will miss the entire World Series.

Oct. 14, 1972: World Series Game One. The A’s win 3-2 over the Reds thanks to Gene Tenace, a bench player for much of the season who Williams decided to start here. Tenace makes history by homering in his first two World Series at bats.

Oct. 15, 1972: World Series Game Two
. This game witnesses one of the most famous defensive plays of all-time, when Joe Rudi makes a backhanded catch diving into the wall while staring at the sun. That catch in the bottom of the ninth helps the A’s preserve their second straight victory in the Fall Classic, beating the Reds 2-1.

Oct. 18, 1972: World Series Game Three. The most famous moment of Dick Williams managing career comes in this 1-0 loss to the Reds. In the top of the eighth and Johnny Bench at the plate, base runner Bobby Tolan steals second, leaving first base open. One pitch later, Williams marches to the mound to confer with pitcher Rollie Fingers and catcher Tenace, making a big show of telling them to intentionally walk Bench, who has two strikes. It is a show, all right, Bench relaxes, and the A’s catch him flat-footed with a sneak play strike three.

Oct. 19, 1972: World Series Game Four. Williams is a magician at the end of this game. The A’s rally for a 3-2 win thanks to a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth. Sparking the rally are three pinch hitters Williams uses, who all get singles. Two pinch runners also help motor home the runs.

Oct. 20, 1972: World Series Game Five. The A’s are just one game from victory, and in the bottom of the ninth it looks like they’ll get it. Down 5-4 to the Reds, Oakland rallies, putting runners on the corners with only one out. When Joe Morgan falls down after catching a foul pop ball, pinch runner Blue Moon Odom on third base immediately breaks for home. Instead of Odom’s speed tying the game, Morgan’s arm ends it. He throws a strike to the plate to nail Odom, thus a pop up-throw out double play finishes the game.

Oct. 23, 1972: World Series Game Seven. Williams claims his first world championship as manager, as the A’s beat the Reds 3-2, ending the only World Series featuring six one-run games.

May 9, 1973. In the bottom of the ninth in a game the A’s are leading 3-1, the Orioles tie it in memorable fashion, as Al Bumbry and Rich Coggins hit back-to-back homers. This isn’t any pair of consecutive longballs, though: it’s the first career home run for both men. The A’s come back to win, 4-3 in 10 innings.

July 30, 1973. Jim Bibby of the Rangers no-hits the A’s, striking out 13 in the process. Texas wins, 6-0.

Sept. 10, 1973. Phil Garner makes his major league debut when Williams uses him as a late game replacement at third base in a 13-0 destruction of the Royals.

Oct. 9, 1973: ALCS Game Three. With the Series tied at one game apiece, the A’s win 2-1 in an 11-inning pitchers’ duel. The teams combine for seven hits, three by Baltimore, and four by Oakland.

Oct. 10, 1973: ALCS Game Four. The A’s appear to be on the verge of clinching their second straight AL pennant, as they comfortably lead 4-0 after six innings. Then Baltimore rallies for a 5-4 win to force a fifth and deciding game.

Oct. 11, 1973: ALCS Game Five. A Catfish Hunter’s five-hit shutout seals the second straight pennant for Dick Williams and the Mustache Gang.

Oct. 14, 1973: World Series Game Two. The Mets defeat the A’s 10-7 in 12 innings in a very sloppily played game. It’s famous for two things. First, in this game Willie Mays shows his age, stumbling around in the field and on the bases throughout the game. Second, Oakland second baseman Mike Andrews commits two errors in this game, so angering A’s owner Charles Finley that he coerces Andrews to sign a fraudulent medical report to prevent him from playing again. The tactic soon backfires on Finley and Commissioner Bowie Kuhn soon lets Andrews play, but Williams is so disgusted that he starts considering if he should quit working for Finley.

Oct. 16, 1973: World Series Game Three. The second consecutive extra-inning game occurs, this one won by the A’s 3-2 in 11 innings. They take a two-games-to-one lead in the Series. Before the game, Williams tells the team he will not return next year, no matter how the Series ends.

Oct. 17, 1973. World Series Game Four. Kuhn may have said that Andrews can play in the World Series, but Finley has told Williams in no uncertain terms not to do that. In this game, Williams decides to use Andrews anyway as a pinch hitter. The story is such big news (and makes Finley look so bad) that even the Mets fans in Shea Stadium give Andrews an ovation when he comes to the plate. The Mets win, 6-1.

Oct. 21, 1973: World Series Game Seven. The A’s do it again, taking their second world title with a 5-2 win over the Mets. Williams resigns immediately after the game.

Angels years

Sept. 7, 1974. A radar gun clocks California pitcher Nolan Ryan at 100.7 mph, a record. The Angels down the White Sox, 3-1.

Sept. 28, 1974. Nolan Ryan throws his third career no-hitter, beating the Twins 4-0. Ryan fans 15 and walks eight.

April 7, 1975. On Opening Day, Williams lets second baseman Jerry Remy start, his major league debut.

April 27, 1975. In the sixth inning, after the Angels have taken a 9-1 lead, Oakland relief pitcher Jim Todd beans California’s Bruce Bochte. Williams is so outraged that, after checking to make sure Bochte isn’t in critical condition, he charges the mound himself, sparking a bench-clearing brawl between his old and current teams.

Aug. 16, 1975. The Angels lose 8-0 to the Tigers, ending a 19-game losing streak for Detroit.

Sept. 28, 1975. On the last day of the season, exactly one year after a Nolan Ryan no-hitter gave the Angels a win, the A’s no-hit the Angels. Oakland uses four pitchers, Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers.

May 26, 1976. The Angels are nearly no-hit by Ken Brett, and the first hit comes on a controversial play. With two outs in the ninth and the Angels still hitless, Jerry Remy hits a slow infield roller that third baseman Jorge Orta opts not to make a play on. It’s ruled a hit. The next batter is retired, but the game isn’t over: it’s 0-0. The Angels get another single in the 10th inning, but lose 1-0 in 11.

Expos years

April 15, 1977. New Expos manger Dick Williams is there for the first game in Olympic Stadium. The Phillies win, 7-2.

May 21, 1977. Williams ties his personal record by managing a 21-inning game. His Expos lose to the Padres 11-8. It’s Williams’ fifth and final game that’s 20 innings or longer.

Aug. 10, 1977. Williams has one of the longest nights of his career, as a rain-soaked doubleheader against the Phillies ends at 3 a.m. Montreal drops both games.

May 5, 1978. Pete Rose collects his 3,000th hit with a single off of Montreal’s Steve Rogers.

May 20, 1978. Willie Stargell mashes a 535-foot home run, setting a record for the longest ever hit in Three Rivers Stadium. The Expos lose, 6-0.

July 30, 1978. Williams enjoys the biggest win of his career, a 19-0 demolition of the Braves (managed by Bobby Cox). Larry Parrish paces the Expos with three home runs.

Aug. 6, 1978. Williams gives Scott Sanderson his first big league experience, letting him start the second game of a doubleheader. The Cubs beat the Expos, 4-3.

Sept. 15, 1978. Phil Garner hits a grand slam for the second consecutive day, something no NL player has done since Jimmy Sheckard in 1901. The Pirates beat the Expos, 6-1.

July 12, 1979. Steve Rogers pulls off a play that Williams later calls the stupidest he’s ever seen. Rogers is at the plate in the bottom of the fourth with the bases loaded, one out, and Montreal trailing by one run. The opposing pitcher throws three straight balls to begin the plate appearance. Williams decides to give Rogers the “take” sign on the next pitch in hopes of drawing a walk. Rogers ignores the sign and swings—right into a rally-killing double play. In his autobiography, Nice Guys Finish Last, Williams says it came against the Pirates, but it must have been this game against the Giants. The at-bat fits in all other particulars and no other Rogers at bat does.

Sept. 11, 1979. Tim Raines makes his major league debut when Williams uses him as a pinch runner for Gary Carter in an 8-6 win over the Cubs.

Sept. 24, 1979. With the Expos leading the NL East over the Pirates by a half-game and only a week left to play, the Expos travel to Pittsburgh to begin a four-game series. The first two take place on this day in a doubleheader. The Expos split them to stay ahead, but it’s all downhill from there as they lose the next two and trail the rest of the season.

June 26, 1980. Scott Sanderson is nearly untouchable in this 1-0 two-hit victory over the Phillies. The Phillies apparently think he’s nearly invulnerable, because they do something rather surprising. After Mike Schmidt walks in the seventh, the team has him steal second, and he advances to third on an error. Then comes the fun part: Schmidt tries to steal home with two out. He’s out. You don’t see too many 40-homer guys these days try to steal home.

July 28, 1980. Ron LeFlore suffers one of the most embarrassing pickoffs in history. Immediately after the Expos speedster steals a base, he gets up and notices an interesting factoid on the Diamondvision: Today is the 100th anniversary of the first stolen base. Intrigued, LeFlore wanders off the bag to read it—and is promptly nailed by the Reds.

Sept. 6, 1980. Tim Wallach makes his major league debut playing for Williams.

Sept. 10, 1980. 21-year-old rookie Bill Gullickson has the game of his career, fanning 18 in a 4-2 win over the Cubs.

Oct. 3, 1980. The Expos enter the last series of the season tied for first place in the NL East with the Phillies, and that series pits the Expos and Phillies against each other. In the first game on this day, the Expos lose a 2-1 heart-breaker to the Phillies, managing only four hits against three Philadelphia pitchers. The Expos will lose tomorrow to end the pennant race.

Aug. 19, 1981. Terry Francona makes his major league debut with Williams’ Expos. Francona and Phil Garner are the most successful managers to begin their playing careers under Williams.

Padres years

July 19, 1982. Tony Gwynn makes his major league debut for Williams and the Padres with a start in center. Gwynn has an RBI-sac fly in his first trip to the plate and goes 2-for-4.

Aug. 11, 1982. Nolan Ryan nearly throws another no-hitter against a Dick Williams team. Only a fifth-inning single by Terry Kennedy prevents him from doing so.

Sept. 13, 1982. Padres third baseman Joe Lefebrve gets six hits in a 16-inning game against the Dodgers. Despite that, LA wins, 4-3.

April 5, 1983. The Padres defeat the Giants 16-13 in the highest scoring Opening Day game in a half-century.

June 2, 1983. Kevin McReynolds makes his major league debut playing for Williams.

July 29, 1983. Padres first baseman Steve Garvey plays the first game of a doubleheader for his 1,207th consecutive game, and then sits out of the second game, ending his streak.

Aug. 3, 1983. The Astros beat the Padres 1-0 as Nolan Ryan tosses his ninth career one-hitter. Tim Flannery singles in the third inning against him.

Aug. 12, 1984. It’s one of the ugliest games ever played. Atlanta’s Pascual Perez beans Alan Wiggins with the first pitch of the game, and the Padres pitchers spend the rest of the night trying to get revenge. However, Perez does a good job dodging his throws and he isn’t plunked until the bottom of the eighth, at which point a nasty brawl begins. When the Braves bean the first batter in the ninth, an even uglier brawl begins. Fans get involved, players go into the stands, and police in riot gear end the game atop both dugouts. Umps eject 16 during the game. Williams earns a 10-game suspension.

Sept. 20, 1984. A 5-4 win over the Giants clinches the first Padres division title in franchise history.

Oct. 2, 1984: NLCS Game One. The Padres lose their first ever postseason game in historic fashion, 13-0 to the Cubs, allowing five homers in the process.

Oct. 6, 1984: NLCS Game Four. The Padres, after losing the first two games in this best-of-five series, beat the Cubs 8-7 behind the hitting of Steve Garvey. He goes 4-for-5 with five RBI, most memorably on the walk-off home run at the end. The NLCS is now tied two games apiece.

Oct. 7, 1984: NLCS Game Five. The Cubs take a quick 3-0 lead in the deciding game, but San Diego scores two in the sixth and four in the seventh to become the first NL team to come back from a two-games-to-none deficit to win the pennant. Williams becomes the second manager in history to guide three teams to the World Series.

Oct. 10, 1984: World Series Game Two. The Padres beat the Tigers, 5-3. It will be their only win in a fairly one-sided World Series.

July 1, 1985. Bruce Bochy does something no else has ever done: hit a walk-off home run off Nolan Ryan. Padres 6, Astros 5 (10). Yeah, Ryan pitches a complete game in extra innings despite allowing six runs in all. Added bonus: he also allows a run in the eighth and another in the ninth, tying it—and still comes back out for the 10th. It was a different time.

July 6, 1985. Though known for his bat, Tony Gwynn makes a memorable play in the field, throwing out a runner at first for an assist on the rare 9-3 ground out.

Sept. 11, 1985. Pete Rose laces his 4,192nd career hit off the Padres’ Eric Show to become baseball’s all-time hit leader.

Mariners years

July 17, 1986. Jim Presley hits a walk-off grand slam, allowing the Mariners to win 5-1 in 11 innings over the Red Sox

Aug. 30, 1986. In a doubleheader against the Mariners, the Yankees use one of the oldest combinations of staring pitchers: Tommy John (age 43) and Joe Niekro (age 41).

Sept. 14, 1986. Bo Jackson hits what is believed to be the longest homer at Royals Stadium, a 475-foot shot. Seattle’s Mike Moore surrenders it in the fourth as KC wins, 10-3.

June 26, 1987. Seattle catcher Dave Valle does something unusual for a backstop: hits two triples in one game.

Sept. 12, 1987. Edgar Martinez gets his major league debut when Williams has him pinch-run for Jim Presley, and then replace him at third base. When he retires in 2004, Martinez is the last active athlete who played for Williams.

Sept. 13, 1987. It’s one of the best pitchers’ duels Williams has ever seen, as the White Sox beat the Mariners 2-0 in a game featuring only three hits. Both Chicago hits are home runs off of Mark Langston. Seattle’s only hit is a Harold Reynolds single, but he’s thrown out trying to extend it into a double. That is all the Mariners can do off White Sox starter Floyd Bannister, who ends the game with 27 batters faced.

June 5, 1988. Dick Williams manages his last game. The Mariners drop their fourth in a row, 7-3 to the Royals.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
jeff angus
13 years ago

May 21, 1971

Williams and his pitching coach decide to cope with young starter Rollie Fingers’ nervousness—having too much time to think and getting his knickers in a twist—by surprising him with a sudden relief assignment in a game the A’s were getting blown out in. The in-the-moment Fingers tosses 5-1/3 innings of effective relief. This is the day he was switched to being a reliever, a role he proved quite effective in performing.

Bob Evans
13 years ago

Chris, the quantity and quality of esoterica you come up with is nothing short of astounding.  Always a fun read.

Chris J.
13 years ago

Jeff – thanks for that addition.

Bob – thanks for the kind words.

Pesonally, I’m just a little vexed I forgot this one:

Aug. 17, 1979: The Expos win 1-0 on the rare walk-off HBP.  Rodney Scott is the one plunked.

13 years ago

I think the reason Garvey sat out on on 7/29/83 was because he broke a thumb in a home plate collision.  He missed the rest of the season.