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Matt Williams retires after 17 season in the Bigs.


'A father first,' Williams retires after 17 years


Mark Gonzales

The Arizona Republic

Jun. 13, 2003 12:00 AM





Your voice

Poll: Do you agree with Matt Williams' decision to retire from baseball?



KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Matt Williams' feelings about his three children were consistent, and so were the opinions expressed by his former teammates Thursday after the five-time All-Star third baseman announced his retirement.


"I hope my son grows up to be like Matt Williams," Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace said.


Williams, 37, reiterated his desire to stay in the Valley with his three children instead of signing with Colorado or the Chicago Cubs after he cleared waivers on Wednesday.


"I'll say it again - I'm a father first," Williams said. "Baseball certainly is a big part of my life and has given me a lot. I think I gave back a lot with a lot of desire.


"But my kids are ages 13, 12 and 10, and I've been a baseball player and missed a lot of their time. It's more important to be present with them."


Williams, a four-time Gold Glove recipient, finished his career with a .268 batting average, 378 home runs and 1,218 RBIs in 7,000 at-bats in 17 years with San Francisco, Cleveland and the Diamondbacks.


Injuries blemished his final three full seasons with the Diamondbacks, and Valley fans booed Williams relentlessly.


But Williams expressed no bitterness over his treatment, and he appreciated good-luck telephone calls from Diamondbacks executives Jerry Colangelo, Rich Dozer and Joe Garagiola Jr.


"I understand (the fans') disappointment," Williams said. "I can say this: Nothing ever happened for lack of preparation. I think I did the best I could in every situation."


Williams plans to devote more time to his children and his youth league. He will also take diving classes and said any future baseball job would have to be contoured to accommodate his kids.


"He was a good player, a good teammate and a good friend," San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds told the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times. "I wish him well. There comes a time when we're all going to have to do it."


Former Giants teammate and golf partner Dave Righetti added, "The thing I admired about him is when he was young he was like a volcano, but he never took it to third base. The guy was smooth."


Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd respected Williams' priorities.


"His persona alone makes a team better," O'Dowd told Denver's Rocky Mountain News. "He made the right decision for himself. He wanted to be with his family."


Grace added, "You can almost count on one hand how many men have full custody of their children in divorce cases. It's a rare opportunity for him to be with his kids, and I wouldn't expect anything less."



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