Mr. Nice Guy turns 80

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Growing up a baseball fan in the 1970s, you quickly learned the rules.

Jim Palmer was THE Cy Young Award winner. Reggie Jackson  was ALWAYS in the World Series.

And Dick Williams‘ players NEVER gave less than 100 percent.

5-27-09-Muder_Williams.jpgOf course, there was a price to be paid for Williams’ managerial work. It seemed like every few years, his players began to grumble, his owner became worried — and Williams was eventually shown the door. But six months later, Williams would be back at Spring Training with yet another team — molding winners out of teams that never won.

Fast-forward to 2008, when Williams is elected to the Hall of Fame. It looked like the same guy: white mustache, piercing eyes… But this person was smiling all the time. In fact, he was moved to tears more than once.

Seems like the disciplinarian manager found out that — along the way — he was loved and respected more than he knew.

Today, Williams becomes one of just 13 living Hall of Famers who have reached their 80th birthday. And after a career filled with hard knocks and hard work, Dick Williams surely deserves to celebrate.

Happy birthday, Mr. Nice Guy!

Watch Williams’ speech from the 2008 Induction Ceremony

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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