Thursday, May 05, 2016

A Look at HOF'er Dick Williams' Personal Baseball Scrapbook - When He was a Dodgers Prospect

Dick Williams had manned the helm of six different clubs over a 21 year career, and won two World Series championships for his efforts.  So it's easy to forget that the Hall of Fame manager started his Baseball life as a Dodger.  I'll have you know, though, that Williams was a bright prospect in the Brooklyn system, and thankfully, due to several unique items currently available at Worthridge Auctions, we get a little glimpse of his early days with the franchise.

Featured here are two of his personal scrapbooks as a youth.  In fact, there are numerous items at Worthridge from his estate in this auction.  Check them out here.  Below are some pics found in the scrapbooks.  Click any pic to embiggen.

Scrapbook #1 (Auction Link):

After being noticed by a Dodgers scout in 1946 during a semi-pro game, he immediately joined the Class-C 1947 Santa Barbara Dodgers of the California League.  As an eighteen year old he would slash .246/.246/.361/.607 that first season.  Not known for having significant tools, Dick Williams did differentiate himself by out-working and out-hustling everybody else.  BTW, a teammate of his in 1947 was Rocky Bridges. Below is a team photo of that 1947 team.

The next year would prove to be a pivotal time for him.  Per a SABR biography written by Jeff Angus:
The following year he attended his first pro spring training. It was an historic event, the premiere of Branch Rickey's industrialization experiment, Dodgertown at Vero Beach. Dodger management standardized drills and certified standards of accomplishment for every key fundamental a coach could measure. Dodger prospects got sunrise-to-sunset repetitive drills designed to teach the standard approaches to processes ranging from sliding into home plate to throwing to second base with a runner in scoring position. This fit well with Williams's natural predisposition to believe there was a right way to execute and that intensive commitment was the best way to reach a goal. And he started to internalize the drills themselves, adding them to the toolkit he would roll out later in less disciplined organizations.
A foundation was laid that would suit him well as a manager.  In the meantime, he spent the 1948 season with the Santa Barbara Dodgers and excelled.  Williams would bat .335 and record a slugging percentage of .545; making himself a legitimate prospect.

Below are a couple more team photos from this scrapbook; including a club called "Sylvester and Douglas".  I'm not sure what this was, but I suspect it was some sort of company team or semi-pro club.  There is also another team photo of the Santa Barbara Dodgers (probably from 1948) and several newspaper clippings.

Scrapbook #2 (Auction Link):

This next scrapbook details his time with the Fort Worth Cats, a AA minor league club for the Dodgers.  After a fantastic 1948 with Santa Barbara Dick Williams would be promoted to Fort Worth of the Texas League, and spend two years there before heading to Brooklyn.  This second scrapbook is mostly filled with ephemera from his stay with the Cats. 

Per a SABR biography written by Jeff Angus:
"I joined Fort Worth, and Bobby Bragan took over ten days after I was sent down from Brooklyn. I had a bad start, but he stuck with me, gave me every benefit he possibly could," Williams said. Williams learned the Dodger Way, and learned to rein in his aggressive tendencies, if only to avoid doing extra running in the 100+ degree West Texas heat. Williams said in his book, "There should be a note under every one of my records that says See Bobby Bragan. Because a bit of every one of my wins belongs to him."
In 1949 he slashed .310/.310/.507/.817 and then slashed .300/.300/.427/.727 in 1950.  Teammates in Fort Worth include Carl Erskine, Cal Abrams, Billy Loes and Chico Carrasquel.  In 1951, at the age of 22, Dick Williams would go to Brooklyn. Over the next fourteen years he would bounce around between five different Major League clubs before finally retiring as a player.  Then in 1967 he would start his Hall of Fame managerial career with the Boston Red Sox.  As Williams noted above, these few formative seasons as a Dodgers minor leaguer provided important lessons that he would take with him as a manager. 

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