Broadcasting kept Matt Williams connected to the game he loves.
Now, the former All-Star and Gold Glove third baseman is back in his element. Being on the field, coaching and instructing, is what Williams loves most. He’ll get a chance to do plenty of that after joining the A’s as their new third base coach.
The longtime Giant took time to discuss joining the team across the Bay with NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil, in the latest episode of “The Bro Show” podcast, also available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.
Williams played for the Giants from 1987-96, emerging as one of the National League’s top sluggers and best defensive third basemen. His coaching path eventually led him to a two-year stint managing the Washington Nationals from 2014-15. Local fans got reintroduced to Williams in 2017 when he served as a pregame and postgame Giants analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area.
“My most comfortable place is on the field, in the uniform,” said Williams, 52. “I’m a rat, man. That’s where I’m most comfortable, swinging a fungo with blisters on my hands and in the grind of 4:30 a.m. to the ballpark. So I’m happy to be back, and I’m so happy that (A’s manager) Bob (Melvin) called me and I’m proud to be part of the team and the organization.”
Williams’ ties to Melvin go back to their days as Giants teammates. He also credits Melvin for instilling the coaching bug in him after Williams called it a playing career in 2003.
“He invited me down when he was the manager in Arizona to spring training to work with Mark Reynolds and the infielders,” Williams said.
His credentials as a player — five All-Star Games and four Gold Gloves — speak for themselves. But, as Williams points out, he traveled a rocky road establishing himself as a big league regular, noting the patience that former Giants GM Al Rosen and manager Roger Craig showed with him early in his career. Perhaps that perspective will come in useful as he works with several young A’s players still finding their footing in the majors.
“There are times when Roger Craig or Al Rosen could have said, ‘You know, this kid just isn’t gonna make it,’” Williams said. “For three straight years it was really lean. But they just kept supporting me and kept helping me. I think that’s where I get my desire to help these players.”
As much as Williams enjoyed being an analyst, he’s pumped to be back in coaching.
“I love the broadcasting stuff, but when Bob Melvin calls and says, ‘Hey, I want you to coach third for me,’ I have to accept that job.”