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Former Jays Manager Jimy Williams Dies at 80

Toronto Blue Jays Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images

Jimy Williams passed away. He was 80.

He was manager of the Blue Jays from the start of the 1986 season until 36 games into the 1989 season. The Jays had a 281-241 record with Jimy as manager.

Before he became manager, he was our third base coach for six seasons. Bobby Cox left the team after four years to manage the Atlanta Braves. In 1985, we made the playoffs for the first time (losing out to the Royals in seven games).

So Williams inherited a pretty good team; a fair bit was expected, but then there were several good teams in the seven-team AL East. We finished 86-76, 9.5 games behind the Red Sox in fourth place.

Before the 1987 season, we traded Damaso Garcia to the Braves for Craig McMurtry. Garcia has been a thorn in Jimy’s side. Garcia had been our leadoff hitter, but Jimy felt that a guy who got on base at a .306 clip and was caught stealing an annoying amount of the time shouldn’t be hitting leadoff. Garcia thought it was his right to bat leadoff, and if he was to be moved, his friend Alfredo Griffin should get the job. Jimy, unsurprisingly, thought that Tony Fernandez should be shortstop and hit leadoff (anyone with half a lick of sense would agree). Garcia wasn’t the type to disagree quietly with a manager. As you might remember, he had a bonfire in the clubhouse, using his uniform as kindling.

We’d finish 1987 96-66, second in the AL East behind the Tigers. You likely remember that season, the Jays lost their last seven games, four of them to the Tigers.

In 1988, we came up a bit short again, 87-75, tied for third, 2 games back of the Red Sox. Again, Jimy had troubles with one of his stars. Jimmy figured that it was time George Bell moved to DH. Bell felt that it was an affront to his manhood or something, even though his knees were so bad that his range was limited to the length of his arms. Again Bell wasn’t the sort to take be quietly pissed.

The team had high hopes that 1989 would be our year. It didn’t start well; they went 12-24, and Jimy was fired.

Williams would go on to manage the Red Sox from 1997 to 2001 (making it to the playoffs twice) and then the Astros from 2002 to 2004. After that, he was bench coach for the Phillies from 2006 to 2008, winning a World Series ring.

In all, teams were 910-790 with Williams as manager, which isn’t all that bad. I think he was a smart manager, but his teams came up just short.

And the Jays announced that Brian Serven cleared waivers and is now on the Bisons’ roster. You’ll remember the team took him from the Cubs off waivers.

Shi Davidi has the Blue Jays minor league coaching assignments (the Jays used to email this out to everyone us).