- 3B, SS, 1B, DH
- Carson Crusher
- December 28, 1965
- 6' 2"
- 205 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-11-1987 with SFN
- Allstar Selections:
- 1990 SS, 1991 GG, 1993 GG, 1993 SS, 1994 GG, 1994 SS, 1997 GG, 1997 SS
If it hadn't been for a players' strike on 1994, Williams may have broken Roger Maris' single-season homer mark before Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa got to it. Williams had 43 homers in the Giants' abbreviated 115-game season in '94, which projected to 60-61 homers for a 162 game schedule. Williams' 268 homers in the 1990s were the most in the National League behind Barry Bonds and Sosa. He finished second in MVP voting in 1994, and third in 1999. Williams also won four Gold Glove Awards, three in the NL and one in the AL. In 1997 he helped the Indians to the World Series and nearly slugged them to the title, hitting .385 with a homer, three RBI and eight runs scored in the series loss to Florida. In 2001 he won a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks, driving in seven runs in seven games against the Yankees. In his first season with the D-Backs he had hit .303 with 35 homers and 142 RBI. Injuries placed him on the disabled list in six separate seasons, especially after he turned 30.
Williams was originally selected by the New York Mets from Carson High School in Carson City, Nevada, but he did not sign with the Mets. In high school, Williams also started as quarterback on the Carson Senators football team. Two of his high school teammates in baseball, Bob Ayrault and Charlie Kerfeld, also played baseball in the major leagues.
San Francisco Giants
Williams accepted a baseball scholarship to play for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and after attending college and playing baseball there, Williams was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round (the 3rd pick) of the 1986 pro baseball draft. Despite suffering from several leg injuries and some lower-back ailments, Williams was an excellent fielder at third base and a dangerous and productive hitter. As a third baseman, Williams had good bodily reactions and excellent hands, plus a quick release with his strong and accurate arm. Williams was one of the premier fielders at third base as he earned four Gold Glove Awards from 1991 through 1997.
A hitter with exceptional power, six times he hit more than 30 home runs in a baseball season, with more than 90 runs batted in. His best season was 1994, when he hit a National League-best 43 home runs and accumulated 96 runs batted in (RBI), even though this was a Major League Baseball season that was shortened by nearly one-third because of a season-ending strike by Major League baseball players. Williams finished second in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award, finishing behind the first baseman Jeff Bagwell of the Houston Astros.
After all those years in San Francisco, Williams developed several very strong relationships, particularly to the stadium once known as Candlestick Park. Nostalgic about the winds that swirled around the old Giants haunt, Williams told a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle, "If there's one thing I learned here, it's never take your eyes off the ball."
Another relic from his Giants days was his father-son relationship with Giants manager Dusty Baker. That relationship took an ugly turn on July 22, 2001 when Williams accused his former manager of ordering reliever Chad Zerbe to bean him. With a five-run lead in the sixth, Williams had swung at a 3-0 count and gotten a hit, violating one of baseball's myriad of mysterious unwritten rules. When Williams came to bat two innings later, southpaw Zerbe threw a fastball behind his head. After Williams gestured toward the mound and Baker, both benches cleared and players had to prevent Williams and Baker from fighting. The two close friends were able to reconcile their differences within a few days.
Williams was an original member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he holds the Diamondbacks record for the most RBIs in one season with a total of 142 during 1999. (This record has since been tied by Luis Gonzalez in 2001, but never exceeded). Williams played in three World Series for three different teams (1989 with the S.F. Giants, 1997 with the Cleveland Indians, and 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks). During these three World Series, Williams became the only player to hit at least one World Series home run for three different Major League baseball teams. During his career, Williams had an overall batting average of .268, and he knocked 378 home runs, and batted 1218 runs in. He scored 997 Major League runs, and he accumulated 1878 hits, 338 doubles, and 35 triples, while playing in 1866 regular-season games.
Williams is now a partial owner of the Diamondbacks, and he carries the title of "Special Assistant to the General Partner". Williams also occasionally serves as color commentator during Diamondbacks radio and television broadcasts, and has also assisted in coaching and player personnel matters.
Williams was hired in November 2009 by the Diamondbacks to be their first base coach for 2010. Williams is moving from 1st base coach to 3rd base coach for the 2011 season, while working under 1st year manager Kirk Gibson.
On November 6, 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Williams purchased $11,600 worth of human growth hormone, steroids and other drugs from the Palm Beach clinic in 2002. Williams later told the Chronicle he used HGH on the advice of a doctor to treat an ankle injury he suffered during spring training in 2002.
On December 13, 2007, he was named among the dozens of players alleged to have used steroids in the Mitchell Report, commissioned by Major League Baseball and written by former Senator George J. Mitchell.
Hall of Fame candidacy
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- Matt Williams