Dick Williams: Crafting World Series Champions

Only a few Major League baseball managers get their teams to the World Series. Even fewer get their teams to more than one World Series. And only a handful have gotten three teams to the Series.

Meet Dick Williams, who guided the Boston Red Sox to the pennant in 1967, the Oakland A’s to three championships in the ’70s and the San Diego Padres to the National League title in 1984.

Along the way, Williams earned a reputation as a hard driving manager who expected nothing but the highest performances from his teams.

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It was perhaps natural then that his 1990 memoir would be called No More Mr. Nice Guy. That’s when I had the chance to meet him. So here now from 1990. Dick Williams

Dick Williams was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2008. He died in 2011, at the age of 82.

Joe Garagiola

Tomorrow is Major League baseball’s opening day, the first day of the 2023 season.

On the first day of a 162 game schedule, every team is in first place. Any team can win the world series. And a batter can hit /400, and a picture can have a no-hitter.

The world is full of possibilities .

On the Opening Day roster for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946 was a rookie catcher named Joe Garageola.

That year Joe played in his first, and only, World Series. He was a major leaguer for nine seasons, playing for the Cardinals, the Pirates, the Cubs, and the Giants.

But after his retirement from the game, Joe Garagiola found another career in which he had much greater success.


He did sports broadcasting, but also game shows, and even substitute hosting on the Tonight Show.

I met him in 1988, when he was promoting his book It’s Anybody’s Ballgame, about his post baseball career.

No, to add some context to the interview you’re about to hear. We talked just a couple of weeks into the 1988 season, but already by that time the hapless Baltimore Orioles had a 13 game losing streak, a major league record. Sadly he Os Went on to lose their first 21 games in a row, which still stands as the major league record.

So here now, from 1988, Joe Garagiola.

Joe Garagiola.died in 2016. He was 90.

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Willie Mays
Hank Aaron

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Willie Mays

It’s September 29th. And on September 29th, 1954, a young baseball player made a name for himself with a defensive play that to this day remains one of the greatest ever.

It was the first game of the 1954 world series, between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians. Playing center field for the Giants that day at the Polo Grounds was the young Willie Mays.

In the eighth inning of a tie game, Vic Wertz of the Indians came to the plate. He lofted a Fly ball to deep center field, and maze made a heroic run for it. With his back to home plate, Mays reached up and caught the ball over his shoulder.

The play was so amazing that to this day, it is usually simply referred to as The Catch.

In the years that followed, maze quickly established himself as a superstar, not only for his ability to smash home run after home run, but his speed on the bases, he was so fast, he was actually run out from under his cap. More on that in the interview you’re about to hear…

In 1988 Willie Mays finally wrote his autobiography, and that’s when I had the chance to meet him.

First, a little context. You’ll hear a reference here to Willie Mays being banned from baseball. What? Yes, in 1980, the commissioner banned Willie Mays because he had signed a deal with and Atlantic City casino, to be a greeter and autographed signed her. He was eventually reinstated.

Also, this interview took place at a time when the Baltimore Orioles, under the managerial leadership of Frank Robinson, we’re having a horrible year.

And we did this interview just a few weeks before the historic first ever night game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

So here now, from 1988, Willie Mays.

Willie Mays is 90 now. He’s been in the Hall of Fame since 1979.

Bob Gibson

In the 1960s and into the early 70s, one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League was St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Bob Gibson.

During a 17-year career, Gibson racked up 251 wins, over 3000 strikeouts, won two Cy Young awards and one year was Most Valluable Player.

He was a star of the 1967 World Series in which the Cardinals beat the Boston Red Spx.

Now, like any picture with that kind of record, Gibson was an intimidating presence on the mound.

But in his case, it went beyond intimidating and he acquired a reputation for being mean.

In 1994 Gibson wrote a memoir called Stranger to the Game. And that’s when I met the man who was anything but “mean.”

So here now, from 1994, Bob Gibson.

Bob Gibson died last year at age 84.

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Denny McLainCal RipkenHank Aaron

Ron Luciano

They say baseball is a funny game. No, really, it’s a funny game full of funny characters.

In the 1980s, one of the best chroniclers of those characters was former Major League umpire Ron Luciano.

Luciano umpired in the American League from 1969 to 1979. And along the way, he collected hundreds of stories about some of the most colorful characters in Major League Baseball, past and present.

I met Ron Luciano in 1989, as we talked about his book Remembrance of Swings Past.

So here now, from 1989, Ron Luciano.

Ron Luciano died in 1995. He was 57 years old.

Bob Feller

Tomorrow is Major League Baseball’s opening day. So today, a conversation from a few years ago with one of the greatest major league pitchers of all time.

Bob Feller, a farm boy from Iowa, joined the Cleveland Indians when he was just 17 years old. And during his 18 Major League Seasons that followed, seller set all kinds of pitching records.

Is 98 mile per hour fastball earned him the nicknames rapid Robert, or Bullet Bob.

And he is to this day the only major league pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter on the first day of the season.

I had the chance to speak with Bob Feller in 1990, 50 years after his historic opening day no hitter.

And in the interview you’re about to hear, Bob Feller also Reveals His close connection to one of the most famous baseball photos of all time.

So here now, from 1990, Bob Feller:

Bob Feller died 2010, not long after his 92nd birthday.

Cal Ripken

In 21 seasons with his hometown Baltimore Orioles, Cal Ripken racked up some very enivable numbers:

3,184 hits. 431 home runs. 1,695 runs batted in. A 19-time All-Star, and two-time American League Most Valuable Plater.

But perhaps his greatest number was 2,632. That’s how many consecutive games Ripken played in,shattering the Lou Gehrig record of 2,130, 25 years ago this weekend.

I met him 11 years after he broke the record. He had just written a book called “Parenting Youth Athletes the Ripken Way.”

So here now, from 2006, Cal Ripken:

Cal Ripken retired from baseball in 2001. A year after our interview, he was electyed to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s 60 now and still lives in Maryland.

Denny McLain

In all of major league baseball history, going back well over a hundred years, there has been only a handful of pitchers who have won 30 or more games in a single season.

That very short list includes names like Cy Young, Grover Cleveland Alexander, and Dizzy Dean.

And .. the last to do it — righthander Denny McLain.

It was on September 14th, 1968 that McLain, pitching for the Detroit Tigers, struck out ten to notch his 30th win of the season.

Fast forward 20 years, almost to the day — that’s when I met him.

So here now, from 1988, Denny McLain.

Denny McLain swept the 1968 American League MVP and Cy Young awards and won the Cy Young winner in 1969 as well, before his career imploded after rotator cuff issues.

But Denny McLain, who is 76 now, baseball’s last 30-game winner, never did make it to the Hall of Fame.

Dave Pallone

A little bit of backstory: in 1979 major league baseball umpires went on strike. MLB hired substitutes — scabs, as m,any call them — and veteran minor league umpire Dave Pallone was offered a big-league job.

He remained in the National League for ten years.

But as he told in his 1990 book “Behind the Mask,” his fellow umpires disliked him. And he developed a reputation for being quick-tempered.

In April 1988, Pallone had a very high-profile confrontation with someone else who had a reputation for his temper: Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose. During an argument over a controversial call, Rose shoved Pallone — a very serious offense in baseball — and was suspended for 30 days.

Dave Pallone was forced to resign from baseball in September 1988.

I met him two years later, when he published his book.

Here now, from 1990, Dave Pallone.

“Behind the Mask” was a New York Times best-seller

Dave Pallone is 68 now, and does diversity training for corporations, as well as NCAA colleges, universities and athletes.

And he’s in the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.