Former major league manager Jimy Williams, who helmed the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros over parts of 12 different seasons, passed away Friday, it has been announced. Williams was 80.
After a professional playing career that included a couple of cups of coffee in the majors, Williams spent most of the 70s as a minor league manager. He became Bobby Cox’s third base coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in the early 80s, and took over for Cox as manager when Cox left the Blue Jays to return to the Atlanta Braves in 1986. The Jays were a winning team each of Cox’s full three seasons as manager, including a 96 win season in 1987, but didn’t win the division. When Toronto got off to a 12-24 start in 1989, Williams was fired. He was replaced by Cito Gaston as manager. Toronto ended up winning the division in 1989, part of a string of four division titles in five seasons under Gaston that ended in Toronto winning the World Series in back-to-back seasons in 1992 and 1993.
Williams re-joined Cox in 1991 as the Braves’ third base coach, being on the losing side when his former Jays team won it all against Atlanta in 1992, and being able to be part of the celebration when the Braves won it all in 1996. Williams was hired as the manager of the Boston Red Sox for the 1997 season, and took Boston to the playoffs as a Wild Card team in 1998 and 1999. He was fired in the middle of the 2001 season, replaced on an interim basis by Joe Kerrigan, and on a permanent basis by Grady Little for the 2002 season. Little would end up managing the Red Sox team that won it all in 2004.
Williams was then hired to manage the Houston Astros for the 2002 season. After winning 84 and 87 games in 2002 and 2003, he was fired at the All Star Break in 2004, with the Astros sitting at 44-44. He was replaced by Phil Garner, who ended up leading the Astros to the NLCS in 2004, and to the World Series in 2005. Williams then was the bench coach for the Philadelphia Phillies for the 2007 and 2008 seasons, retiring after 2008.