The Washington Nationals today announced the hiring of 47-year-old Matt Williams as their field manager. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
This is the first big league managerial position of Williams’ coaching career. Williams joins the Nationals organization after spending the previous four seasons on Kirk Gibson’s coaching staff in Arizona, the last three as Diamondbacks’ third base coach.
“Matt has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a former player and coach,” said Theodore N. Lerner, Managing Principal Owner of the Nationals. “But what most impresses us is his ability to understand and ably communicate situations and strategies in a disciplined, forthright manner. We think he is the right leader for a Washington Nationals team ready to compete for a World Series championship.”
Rizzo added, “I could not be more pleased to welcome Matt Williams and his family to the Nationals and the Nation’s Capital. In some ways, my interview with Matt began during our days together in Arizona, where his undeniable toughness, attention to detail and intensity established a foundation for a Diamondbacks expansion franchise that reached the postseason in its second season and won a World Series two years later.
“All these years later, Matt’s preparedness for this position, knowledge of our roster, system and league set him apart. He is a fierce competitor with a progressive view of the game.”
In 17 big league seasons, Williams hit .268 (1878-for-7000) with 338 doubles, 378 homers, 1218 RBI and 997 runs scored in 1866 games spanning 17 seasons with the Diamondbacks (1998-03), Indians (1997) and Giants (1987-96).
“I feel privileged and honored to be a part of this team,” Williams said. “It’s a wonderful group of guys and a great organization. I’m simply here to help take us to the next level.”
Individually, Williams was a five-time All-Star (1990, ‘94-96, ‘99) and a four-time recipient of the Rawlings Gold Glove (1991, ‘93-94, ‘97) and Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger (1990, ‘93-94, ‘97) awards.
Williams was the Giants’ first-round selection (third overall) in the 1986 First-Year Player Draft. He played the vast majority of his minor-league career and made his MLB debut as a shortstop.
He shifted to the hot corner in ‘88, his second season with the Giants, and never looked back. Williams’ 359 career homers as a third baseman rank third all-time behind only Hall-of-Famer Mike Schmidt (490) and Chipper Jones (389).
No stranger to winning baseball, Williams’ teams posted winning records 11 times in 17 seasons as a player. His teams reached the postseason on six occasions, won three pennants and claimed a World Championship. In all, Williams played in 51 postseason games, 18 of which were World Series contests. Williams was the first player to homer for three separate teams in the World Series (Giants 1989, Indians 1997, Diamondbacks 2001).
Williams sports previous managerial experience gained with the Salt River Rafters, whom he guided to a Arizona Fall League division title in 2012, and the Double-A Mobile BayBears, for whom he skippered for the final five weeks of the 2007 campaign after former-teammate Brett Butler suffered a mild stroke.
Although he retired before baseball returned to the District in 2005, Williams’ baseball DNA traces back to his grandfather, outfielder Bert Griffith, who was a member of the 1924 World Champion AL Nationals.
Born in Bishop, CA and a native of Carson City, NV, Williams is an alum of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.