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Williams a candidate for the Hall

Williams a candidate for the Hall

The "Impossible Dream" forever will be a part of Red Sox Nation lore.

A rookie Major League manager named Dick Williams reported to Spring Training in 1967, developed a no-nonsense approach immediately, and turned a last-place team from the previous season into the American League champions.

It remains as one of the greatest turnarounds in MLB history.

Williams' '67 club is regarded as the most improbable Sox playoff team in club history. After winning just 70 games the year before, he predicted, "We'll win more than we lose."

And they did. The Red Sox won 92 games and won the American League pennant by one game in a thrilling four-team race. Left fielder Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown (the last player to accomplish the feat), and Jim Lonborg won a career-best 22 games.

"I had to say something," Williams said in November when he was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. "We went back to the basics in Spring Training, as far as fundamentals goes, and a lot of players didn't like it. But I don't know of one that stayed there the whole year that didn't take that World Series check."

Though the dream season ended one victory shy of their first Fall Classic title since 1918, the seeds to a terrific managerial career were planted. By the time Williams managed his final game, nearly 20 years later, he had become one of only two managers to win league championships with three different teams (Red Sox, Athletics and Padres) and pilot teams from both leagues into the World Series.

Another dream remains unfulfilled -- selection to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Williams, 77, is among the 15 candidates this year listed on the "Composite Ballot" for election to the Hall of Fame. To be elected by the Veterans Committee, eligible candidates must garner at least 75 percent of the ballots cast. The results of the voting will be announced Feb. 27.

Williams also was among the finalists in 2003 -- the last time managers, umpires and executives were considered for HOF consideration -- receiving 33 votes (41.8 percent) from the 79-member voting committee. He finished fifth among the candidates, none of whom received the necessary 75 percent.

Composite Ballot elections are held every four years.

Williams, known for his "my way or the highway" approach, managed the Red Sox through the 1969 season, being dismissed following a third-place finish. After spending one season as a Montreal Expos coach, he returned to managing, accepting an offer from Charles O. Finley to become the Oakland Athletics' skipper.

The A's already had the nucleus of a fine team, including right fielder Reggie Jackson, shortstop Campy Campaneris, third baseman Sal Bando, left fielder Joe Rudi and a pitching staff that included future Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers, along with a hard-throwing lefty named Vida Blue.

Oakland captured the AL West title in 1971 before being swept by the Baltimore Orioles, who had four 20-game winners that season, in the best-of-five AL Championship Series.

Just as he had done in Boston, Williams stressed fundamentals, and the A's rarely beat themselves. Williams also moved Fingers from the starting rotation to the bullpen that season because the right-hander worried so much between starts. Fingers had 17 saves and started just two more games the remainder of his career.

2007 Hall of Fame Inductions
  2007 Candidates  
The 2007 Veterans Committee ballot features 27 candidates on the player ballot, 15 on the composite ballot.
Players ballot
Dick Allen
Bobby Bonds
Ken Boyer
Rocky Colavito
Wes Ferrell
Curt Flood
Joe Gordon
Gil Hodges
Jim Kaat
Mickey Lolich
Sparky Lyle
Marty Marion
Roger Maris
Carl Mays
Minnie Minoso
Thurman Munson
Don Newcombe
Lefty O'Doul
Tony Oliva
Al Oliver
Vada Pinson
Ron Santo
Luis Tiant
Joe Torre
Cecil Travis
Mickey Vernon
Maury Wills
 
Composite ballot
Buzzie Bavasi
August Busch Jr.
Harry Dalton
Charlie Finley
Doug Harvey
Whitey Herzog
Bowie Kuhn
Billy Martin
Marvin Miller
Walter O'Malley
Gabe Paul
Paul Richards
Bill White
Dick Williams
Phil Wrigley

Williams took the A's to the next level in 1972, again winning the AL West title and then beating the Detroit Tigers in the best-of-five ALCS before upsetting the heavily favored Cincinnati Reds in the World Series in seven games -- six of them decided by one run. It was the franchise's first World Series title in 41 years, and the first of three straight.

Williams also was at the controls of the team in '73, when the A's beat the New York Mets in a seven-game Fall Classic that was best known for Finley attempting to replace second baseman Mike Andrews, who had made two errors in a Game 2 extra-innings loss, with a bogus shoulder injury.

Williams returned to managing midway through the '74 season, becoming the first MLB skipper to receive a six-figure salary -- $100,000 per year from the Angels.

The Midas touch Williams had in his first two managerial stints took a hiatus in Anaheim, but it returned in 1984, when he managed the San Diego Padres to the organization's first National League championship.

His final stop was in Seattle, where he managed the team for about two seasons. His overall regular-season record was 1,548-1,418. He also had a 9-9 League Championship Series record and was 12-14 in the World Series.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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