The career was spectacular. Matt Williams was a five-time All-Star, a Gold Glove infielder, a home run champion. But, oh, what might have been. “If Matt Williams played out injury-free,” said the late Al Rosen, who as Giants general manager picked Williams third overall in the 1986 draft, “he’d be the greatest third baseman of all time.” And if the 1994 major league season hadn’t been halted by a strike, with some 50 games, roughly a third of the season not played, Williams might have reached the magical figure of 60 home runs. As it were, he did hit 43 in 110 games to lead the majors. But for Williams, who spent his first ten seasons in San Francisco of a big league career that lasted for 17, there are no regrets. Only satisfaction “It was gratifying the support I had from the people who sat through that weather at Candlestick Park.” Grandson of a major leaguer, Bert Griffith, Williams grew up on the far side of the Sierra, first Bishop, then Carson City, Nevada. He was a shortstop at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas when selected by San Francisco. His early years were difficult, as he learned to play third and to overcome the elements, going to the minors and then returning to San Francisco. He persevered and responded beautifully, six times hitting at least 30 home runs or more. Four of those times were with the Giants, no small accomplishment playing home games at the ‘Stick. “I never imagined I would have the opportunity to do this,” he said of a career in which he had a lifetime batting average of .268, 378 home runs and 338 doubles. “It’s been great.” So was Matt Williams, with a bat or with a glove.
Narrative by Art Spander