A first-string memoir from a hard-nosed baseball player who became a consistently successful, albeit contentious and well-traveled, manager. An ultracompetitive athlete in his youth, Williams, 61, made it to the Brooklyn Dodgers during the early 1950's. A shoulder injury kept him from achieving better than journeyman status, but the oft-traded outfielder lasted in the big leagues through the 1964 season and earned a chance to manage in the minors. By 1967, Williams was back in the majors as field boss of the Boston Red Sox--a ninth-place club he took to the World Series. Moving on, the author managed Charles O. Finley's Oakland Athletics to three straight pennants and two World Series championships. With time out for stints with the California Angels and Seattle Mariners (whose fortunes he did not improve), Williams made a contender of the Montreal Expos and piloted the San Diego Padres to their first World Series ever in 1984. An unapologetic l-did-it-my-way sort, Williams is candid and profane to the point of calling spades bloody shovels. Nor is he one to miss a chance to settle old scores with those he believed dogged it or otherwise let him down. While Williams has kind words for Gary Carter, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Jackie Robinson, and a handful of others, he pulls no punches in whaling away at a host of the quick and the dead. Among the objects of this notably sore loser's disaffection are team owners who tolerate drag abuse, banjo hitters who command seven-figure salaries, superstars unable to come through in the clutch, yes-men, and the likes of Gil Hodges, Mark Langston, Ellis Valentine, Tom Yawkey, et al. Now coaching old-timers in the Senior Professional Baseball Association, a modestly mellower Williams expresses hope he may get another crack at the top. While his lively, unsparing recollections of life as a hard winner could foreclose this possibility, the text affords good fare for fans of the summer game.