Dick Williams was little more than a role player for most of his 13 seasons in the majors but, given the opportunity to manage Boston’s Triple-A affiliate in 1965, the young 36-year-old manager guided his team to consecutive Governors’ Cups as champions of the International League. Subsequently, Dick O’Connell presented Williams with a contract to manage Boston in 1967.
He immediately made it clear from day one that there was only one person in command of the ship, stripping Carl Yastrzemski of his role as team captain, and that he was resting the success of his young club entirely on his shoulders. With his no-nonsense attitude, he was quick to bench players that he felt were not making the effort that they should, be they rookie or veteran ballplayers, and the “country club” atmosphere that had permeated the Red Sox clubhouse for years disappeared almost overnight.
Soon enough, his efforts translated to success on the field as the club won 51 of its remaining 80 games after the All-Star break and, above all, its first American League pennant in over 30 years after most had predicted a last-place finish for the young team. He was quickly signed to a new three-year deal after the season but the magic of 1967 faded quickly; less than two years later, Williams was fired with just a handful of games left in the 1969 season.
Two years later in 1971, Oakland hired him as manager and watched him lead his new team to a division title; the next two seasons, the franchise won consecutive World Series titles before Williams resigned due to a falling-out with Athletics owner Charlie Finley. He would then go on to manage in California, Montreal, San Diego, and Seattle before calling it a career after the 1988 season at age 59, winning another pennant with the Padres in 1984 and becoming only the fourth manager at that time to win pennants in both the American and National leagues.