Dick Williams: First San Diego Padres Manager To Make World Series Dies at 82
According to USA Today, preliminary reports cite the cause of death as a ruptured aortic aneurysm.
Williams' playing career spanned 14 years with five different teams. After hanging up his cleats as a player in 1964, Williams managed the Red Sox, Oakland A's, San Diego Padres, California Angels, Montreal Expos and the Seattle Mariners over a 21-year major league managing career. He finished with a .520 winning percentage (1,571-1,451).
While he is most notable for his "Impossible Dream" season with the 1967 Boston Red Sox, he would forever remain in the hearts of San Diego Padres fans for managing the club to their first National League pennant and World Series appearance.
Williams would become manager of the San Diego Padres to start the 1982 season. The Padres to this point had become perennial losers; however, that would all change come the 1984 season.
The 1984 season started on a sad note. Beloved owner Ray Kroc passed away from heart disease, and the team would wear his initials on the left sleeve of their jerseys for the entire season. However, Padres fans would have something to cheer about in the end.
Williams led a solid core veterans that included Steve Garvey, Garry Templeton, Craig Nettles, Rich "Goose" Gossage and a future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.
Gwynn captured the first of his eight National League battling titles in 1984. The Padres finished the 1984 season at 92-70 and won the National League West championship.
The road to the World Series wasn't easy, though.
The Padres faced the NL Most Valuable Player, Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, and Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe in the National League Championship. The Cubs were making their first postseason appearance since 1945.
The Cubs landed the first punch, taking the first two games at Wrigley Field. However, the Padres would not go down without a fight, winning the final three games at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium (Qualcomm Stadium as it is known now) to claim their first National League title.
In guiding the Padres to their first NL pennant, Williams joined an exclusive list of managers who have won pennants in both the American and National Leagues.
The Padres' first World Series appearance, while amazing, wasn't be a memorable one. The Friars only captured one win in the best-of-seven series against a mighty American League champion, the Detroit Tigers.
Williams earn himself a spot on the 1985 National League All-Star team, along with several players from his Padres squad. However, the Friars didn't fare well, falling to third place and missing the postseason.
The 1985 season would be Williams' last in Padres uniform. He was let go before the start of spring training in 1986.
While his stint with the Padres may have been brief, he will always be remembered as the manager who turned around a losing baseball club and took them to the World Series.
Williams was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in December 2007 and enshrined in Cooperstown in July 2008.
Rest in peace Dick Williams, and enjoy the great big baseball diamond in the sky.
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