A consistent .270 hitter with home run power to all fields, Williams spent 10 seasons with the San Francisco Giants before becoming a mainstay at third base for the Arizona Diamondbacks. After a career year in 1999 in which he drove in 142 runs, a series of injuries including sore hamstrings, hip flexor problems, and a bizarre, arthritis-like ailment limited Williams’ playing time and his ability to drive the ball. By May 2001 he was back in the lineup every day, but without the full use of his legs he hit only 16 home runs in 109 games.
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.