Card of the Moment #34
June 21st, 2010 by slangon

1959 Topps #292 Dick Williams

Here we have another fine example of one of the many awesome cards sent to me from the land of Project ’62. This one being Hall of Fame Manager Dick Williams, from back in his playing days. Like a lot of guys who make it to the Hall as a skipper, Dick wasn’t an outstanding player. He was a good, versatile player. Early on in his career, he was playing the outfield for Brooklyn against St. Louis when he dove for a ball, landed badly and separated his shoulder. He hurt himself so badly in fact that doctors had to put pins in his shoulder which pretty much took away his ability to throw. After that he wasn’t really able to play in the outfield and had to either learn to play other positions, or leave the game all together. Aside from still occasionally playing left, center and right field, he learned to play all infield positions with the exception of short stop.

One other position he learned extremely well, and one which he was well known for in his day, was that of bench jockey. I found an online version of a copy of Baseball Digest from July of 1980, where Dick Williams was reminiscing about the good old days when opposing players didn’t pat each other on the ass.

“Charlie Dressen was managing the Dodgers then. I’d be down in the bull-pen, warming up a pitcher, and he’d signal for me. I’d come running in, and I knew damn well he didn’t want me to pinch hit. I’d get to the dugout and he’d say, ‘So and so’s coming up. Get on him.'”

Some teams have their designated pinch hitter, or their designated 8th inning set-up guy, or a designated late-inning defensive outfielder. Dick is the first example I’ve ever heard of of a designated opponent pisser-offer.

Wayne Terwilliger recalled:

Dick Williams, a rookie left fielder, was a great bench jockey because his voice was loud and clear and because he could always come up with clever things to say. The rest of us were an appreciative audience, egging him on and laughing loudly for the batter’s benefit.
On of the guys we could always get to was Wally Westlake, an outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates who was a pretty good hitter, but not at Ebbets field. Just before the pitcher delivered the ball, Williams would call out, “Fast ball, Wally,” or “What are you looking for, Wally?” or “Here comes a curve, Wally.” We could see Westlake get rattled, and since we knew we could get to him, Williams did it every time he came to bat. Every time. It was pretty funny to see Westlake get frustrated, swing at bad pitches, take good ones, and all the time he would be one-eyeing our bench. Others were affected, too, but nobody else like our number-one target.

By the way, Westlake was a career .272 hitter, but against the Dodgers he was .245.

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