Jimy Williams, Former Mlb Manager and Al Manager of the Year, Dies at 80

Jimy Williams Cause of Death
Jimy Williams Cause of Death

Jimy Williams, the 1999 Boston Red Sox American League Manager of the Year who won 910 games in 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros, died. He was 80.

After a brief illness, Williams died Friday at AdventHealth North Pinellas Hospital in Tarpon Springs, Florida, according to the Red Sox. Williams lived near Palm Harbor.

Williams was named AL Manager of the Year after leading the Red Sox to their second straight playoff berth. He stated clubhouse calm was easier than home.

“I’ve got a wife and four kids. You want turmoil?” Williams said when he was hired to manage Boston in 1996. “You’ve got to talk. You can’t choose up sides and say, ‘Let’s see who wins this battle.’”

James Francis Williams, an infielder, was born Oct. 4, 1943, in Santa Maria, California. He was a 1961 Arroyo Grande High School alumnus who spelled his name Jimy as a prank.

Williams attended Fresno State and got a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness in 1964. That summer, he joined Tom Seaver and Graig Nettles on the Alaska Goldpanners’ baseball team. In the 1965 Rule 5 draft, St. Louis selected Williams, who had signed with Boston and played for Class A Iowa.

On April 26, 1966, Williams made his major league debut, striking out against Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first at-bat. His first hit came on May 7 with an RBI single off Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants, who, like Koufax, is a future Hall of Famer.

I can remember my first big league hit, but when you only get three, you remember them all,” he said to the Houston Chronicle.

Williams appeared in 14 major league games, finishing 3 for 13 (.231) with one RBI. Before Montreal selected him in the expansion draft and signed him to play for Class AAA Vancouver in 1969, he moved to Cincinnati and spent 1968 with Class AAA Indianapolis.

Jimy Williams Cause of Death

A shoulder injury ended Williams’ playing career, so in 1974, he took over as manager of the California Angels in the Midwest League’s Class A Quad Cities. After six seasons in the minors, he became Bobby Mattick’s third base coach in Toronto in 1980.

Bobby Cox took over as manager of the Blue Jays in 1982, and when Cox left in 1986 to become general manager of the Atlanta Braves, Williams took his position in Toronto’s dugout.

Toronto went 86-76 in his first season and led the AL East by 3 1/2 games with seven games remaining in 1987, but finished 0-7, two games behind Detroit. Following a 12-24 start in 1989, Cito Gaston took over for Williams after the Blue Jays finished 87-75 in 1988. Williams had frequent disagreements with star George Bell, who did not want to be a designated hitter.

Williams returned to the Braves as Cox’s third base coach from 1991 to 1996, when he famously gave Sid Bream the go-ahead for the pennant-winning run on Francisco Cabrera’s single that beat Barry Bonds’ throw from left field and won Game 7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series against Pittsburgh.

Williams succeeded Kevin Kennedy as Boston’s manager following the 1996 season. Following two consecutive 90-win seasons, the Red Sox won 78 games in his debut season. They came from a 0-2 deficit to defeat Cleveland in the 1999 Division Series.

“I probably see life a lot differently than when I was with Toronto,” he said after earning Manager of the Year, “maybe not so excitable, from a standpoint of having to say something all the time.”

Boston won 85 games in 2000, and Williams was fired in August 2001, when the club was 65-53. The Astros signed Williams that fall, and after two winning seasons, he was sacked when the Astros were 44-44 in 2004. He was fired a day after fans at Minute Maid Park booed him as he was presented as an All-Star coach.

Williams’ managerial record was 910–790. He worked as a roaming instructor for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2005 and 2006 before becoming Charlie Manuel’s bench coach for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007 and 2008, earning a World Series ring in his second season.

Both of his sons, Shawn and Brady, played in the minor leagues; Brady is now Tampa Bay’s third base coach, and Shawn was a minor league manager.

Williams leaves behind eight grandchildren in addition to his sons and wife of 47 years, Peggy, daughters Monica Farr and Jenna Williams. Monica was an All-American swimmer for Texas A&M who won two gold medals at the World University Games.

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