1988 MANAGER ML BASEBALL INDUCTEE
From 1963 to 1964, Martha and the Vandellas, a Motown singing group, once had a hit record called Dancing in the Streets and the lyrics proclaimed, “They’re dancing in Philadelphia, PA.” About the same time, Jimy Williams was playing baseball for Fresno State College and graduating with a degree in agri-business. Martha and her pals were still singing in 2008 and the City of Brotherly Love was dancing in the streets in October of that year, celebrating the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series victory-and Jimy Williams was still in baseball and part of the party, as the bench coach of the world champions. Jimy was a slick-fielding infielder under legendary coach Pete Beiden at Fresno State College in 1963 and 1964. He originally signed to play with the Boston Red Sox, but was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Jimy worked his way to the majors quickly, making the Midwest League’s All-Star team in 1965. In 1966, he made his major league debut for the Cardinals in a game against the Dodgers. In his first major league at bat, he faced Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax and struck out. Jimy had his first pro hit a few days later against another Hall of Famer, Juan Marichal. Although his professional playing career was short, Jimy Williams, has been in the game for forty-four years as a player, scout, roving instructor, coach, and manager.
In 1974, he began his managing career in Quad Cities, Iowa in the California Angels farm system. In 1980 after managing a Springfield, Missouri Triple A team for the Angels, he was named the third base coach for the Toronto Blue Jays, working for six years under Bobby Cox. When Bobby, a fellow member of the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame, was tapped by Ted Turner to be the manager of the Atlanta Braves in 1986, Jimy was promoted to the manager’s spot for the Blue Jays. He helped develop the team that would eventually win two world championships. Unfortunately, by that time, Jimy had given way to Cito Gaston who managed the Blue Jays to the titles. In 1991, Jimy wound up working with Bobby Cox again, as the third base coach for the Atlanta Braves until 1996. In 1997, he took the manager’s job with the Boston Red Sox where he skippered the BoSox for five years; finishing 4th in the AL East in 1997, and went on to four consecutive 2nd place finishes behind the New York Yankees.
The “Sawks” made it to the ALCS playoffs in 1998 and 1999 with wild card berths, Boston’s first back-to-back playoff appearances since 1915 and 1916, but they couldn’t manage to get past the powerful Yankees. For his effort in 1999, Jimy was named the American League Manager of the Year. In 2002, Jimy took the manager’s job with the Houston Astros where he led the Astros to respectability in the National League Central. In nine full seasons as an MLB manager, he had a record of 910-790. In 2006, he served as a roving instructor for the Tampa Bay Rays, working with many Rays’ players who went on to win the American League pennant and made it to the World Series in 2008.
Over the years, many players have praised Jimy for his help in getting them to the major leagues with his teaching and innovations. Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, Scott Hatteberg. and Eric Bruntlett are just a very few of his fans. In October 2006, Jimy was named the bench coach for the Phillies, working with another long time baseball friend, Charlie Manue the Phillies’ first World Series title since 1980 and there surely was dancing in the streets.