'You're going to The Show': Williams gets call
ST. PETERSBURG -- Brady Williams was at home, eating dinner with his two sons while his wife was working, when the call came from Rays manager Kevin Cash. He told Williams to put him on speaker phone, then asked a favor of the boys, Balazs and Milan. “He's like, 'Can
ST. PETERSBURG -- Brady Williams was at home, eating dinner with his two sons while his wife was working, when the call came from Rays manager Kevin Cash. He told Williams to put him on speaker phone, then asked a favor of the boys, Balazs and Milan.
“He's like, 'Can you ask your dad if he wants to be the third-base coach of the Rays next year?'” Williams recalled. “They both just smiled, and my heart kind of stopped for a second.”
Just like that, Cash delivered the same news Williams had shared with dozens of players over the past four years as Triple-A Durham’s manager, from top prospects to journeymen Minor Leaguers waiting their turn: He’d been called up to the big leagues.
“It's one of those moments where you don't know if it's going to come or when it's going to come,” Williams said. “You just love what you do. And for him to call me and say that … I was ready.”
Williams, son of former Rays special instructor and Major League manager Jimy Williams, was a 45th-round Draft pick who played five seasons in the Minors and three in independent ball before beginning his coaching career with Tampa Bay. Williams spent three years coaching for Rays affiliates in Southwest Michigan, Columbus and Vero Beach and 13 more managing Minor League clubs in Hudson Valley, Bowling Green, Port Charlotte, Montgomery and Durham.
Congratulations to Brady Williams on getting called up to The Show!— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) November 14, 2022
The new Rays third base coach has worked his way up the Tampa Bay farm system since 2006, most recently leading Durham to the Triple-A National Championship last month. pic.twitter.com/MyFiz7Kca2
He was successful in Durham, most recently winning back-to-back Triple-A championships. While there, he took just as much pride in getting to tell players they’d been called up to the Majors.
Cash’s phone call was a fitting way to inform Williams, 43, of his own long-anticipated call-up. Whenever he could, Williams wanted the announcement to be special -- a promotion, but also a celebration.
“I can only imagine, [considering] how I felt, how they're feeling as a player. That was the ultimate goal,” Williams said. “So I always felt that that was a very special part of my job, and I had to make it a big deal.”
He did just that. Take it from the players who can still instantly remember how Williams broke the best news of their lives.
Williams’ favorite story belongs to Mike Brosseau, who went from undrafted free agent to postseason hero in four years. Williams managed Brosseau in Double-A and Triple-A, seeing how hard he worked to make the most of his opportunity. So when Erik Neander called Williams around 2 a.m. on June 21, 2019, with the Durham Bulls somewhere between Pawtucket and Scranton, Williams demanded the entire team get off the bus at a truck stop, just off an exit ramp. He pretended he was mad.
“We thought somebody, like, stole something or somebody did something stupid,” Brosseau, now with the Brewers, told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “Starts off all angry, and then he transitioned into a good speech about hard work and all that stuff. And then he's like, 'And Bross is going to The Show.'
“Everybody was jumping up and down, celebrating right on the ramp. That was pretty sweet.”
It’s not always quite so cinematic. Josh Lowe, for instance, declined the biggest call of his life while eating dinner in September 2021 because it came from an unknown number. He immediately got a text from the same number: “Answer.” It was Williams, and Lowe was going to join the Rays in Boston for his big league debut.
But whenever possible, Williams preferred to tell players they’d been called up in front of their teammates. That was how he informed Wander Franco, among many others.
“It’s a pretty special moment for somebody in this room…”— Durham Bulls 🏆🏆 (@DurhamBulls) June 21, 2021
The moment Wander & his teammates were told he was going to The Show by our manager Brady Williams.
Congrats, Wander! pic.twitter.com/mN1fQ74Obw
Colin Poche, promoted in 2019, remembered Williams calling his name and saying, “You’re going to the big leagues,” prompting cheers inside the small visitors’ clubhouse at Triple-A Gwinnett. Shane Baz was similarly shocked in September 2021 when Williams pulled the team together before batting practice in Charlotte and ended a short speech with the surprising news that Baz’s next start would be against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.
“Just want to make it a special moment for that player,” Williams said. “You know how much that player has put in to get that moment, and to do it in front of their teammates and just to kind of give a little backstory on where this player came from and how much it meant to them -- it gets emotional.”
“That kind of just speaks to who he is as a coach,” Lowe added. “He really embraces the role that he's in, and he wants the best for all of us.”
Another promotion, another celebration.