Darrell Johnson and Maury Wills failed at this job. So did Del Crandall and Chuck Cottier. Also Rene Lachemann.

Dick Williams will not fail.

Check the .529 winning percentaage, the four division championships, the four pennants and the two World Series championships.

He didn't fail in Boston, Oakland, California, Montreal or San Diego. The Padres were bad jokes before Richard Hirschfield Williams became their manager in 1982, and when he left this spring, he had given them a National League pennant, if not a few bad memories.

The Oakland A's were a very good team that had not been able to get over the hump. Williams pushed them there. He made Rollie Fingers a reliever and the A's won back-to-back World Series titles under him.

The Expos had their best years under Williams, and the Red Sox won a pennant. Etc., etc.

"What he brings is respect," Seattle pitcher Milt Wilcox said. "No matter what people say about him, they know he knows how to win. He demands you do the little things right. You throw strikes. You do your fundamentals correctly. He demands professionalism."

Alan Wiggins, the Baltimore Orioles' second baseman, pointed toward the Seattle dugout on a recent trip here.

"Dick will be fair," he said of the Mariners' new manager. "He will treat everyone the same, and he will treat them as professionals.

"He's not a cheerleader. If they're looking for someone who's going to run over and pat them on the butt after they move the runner from second to third, they can forget it. Dick doesn't think you need patting after that. He thinks that's your job, and that you're not supposed to be rewarded at what ought to be automatic.

"I think Dick got a damn bad rap in San Diego. He had some guys, Terry Kennedy and others, who wanted to be babied, and that's not Dick. Dick treats you like a man, but he's not going to baby you. If they want someone who knows the game, knows the fundamentals and how to teach them, they got the right man."

Wiggins stopped and smiled.

"Oh, and their pitchers will find out he doesn't like walks," he said. "Walks are one of Dick's pet peeves, and he can't stand 'em."

He was sitting around the house in Coronado, Calif., when the telephone rang. The Padres had fired him on the first day of spring training and he was still collecting his $200,000 salary, so he had planned to take the best job he was offered, not necessarily the first.

At one time, he had told friends, the San Diego job would be his last, that when he left it he would spend the rest of his years fishing and playing golf and leave the hassles of baseball to someone else.

But six weeks out of work, 57-year-old Dick Williams missed the game. Badly.

Now he's sitting in his latest office, this one in the cool, dark artifical-turf world of the Kingdome. He has a cup of coffee in front of him, stacks of pitching charts behind him and a warm smile on his face.

But he is not here to make friends, and even people who like him said that won't be a problem.

And without exception, they say that, after 10 seasons of losing, the Mariners will win, that they will get bunts down and throw strikes and pay attention to details.

They may get cursed and they may hate Williams, but they will be better.

"He's a good manager, but an SOB to be around," one American League general manager said. "He snarls. He curses. But he does get the best out of a team."

Would you hire him?

"Yes," he said, without hesitation.

After lopsided losses in New York last month, Williams closed the clubhouse door -- and did nothing. He told his players to relax, enjoy the day off in Detroit and come back ready to play.

A few days later, Mark Langston walked six batters in seven innings and Williams, in his 11th game as Seattle's manager, went a little nuts.

He told reporters the Mariners "needed a shakeup" and said he especially wouldn't tolerate walks.

When the reporters left, Williams walked into the clubhouse where a few pitchers were still dressing and went into "a full tirade," one Seattle player said. "He said, 'If the pitchers we have now can't stop walking people, we'll get rid of them and bring in some people who can.' "

Seattle sources said Williams is considering a very major shakeup, that the Mariners may release designated hitter Gorman Thomas and catcher Steve Yeager, both of whom have guaranteed contracts. Several others may be headed for the minor leagues and the young pitchers have gotten the message about throwing strikes.

"I don't know of a single defense to stop the walk," Williams said. "Unless your pitcher has one heck of a pickoff move."

Williams was hired as a compromise. The team's owner, George Argyros, wanted Billy Martin, and his baseball staff talked him into anyone else.

Argyros demanded a big name because the Mariners have severe attendance problems, and Williams was the biggest available, other than Martin. Enter Williams.

"I guess it's in your blood," he said. "I didn't expect to get a call this year, certainly not this soon. It took me by surprise and, at first, I didn't know how much I was interested. But as we got to talking, I got excited about it. You start thinking about the things you miss.

"It's not as easy as it once was. The Basic Agreement keeps you from having the control over players you once did. I'm not talking about having complete control, but I don't think we have enough."

The more he talks, the more he warms to the subject.

Baseball people said few mangers in the last 30 years have been able to orchestrate the mechanisms of a game better than Williams, that he is a master of having the right pinch hitters ready in the eighth inning. All this he'll have established by the fifth.

Williams said it's a chess match, and the more he thought about coming to a young team with wild, young pitchers, the more he remembered how much he missed it.

"The games are the same," he said. "That's what appeals to anyone."

He is asked about being too hard on players, which is why the San Diego players said, "Good riddance."

"Yes, I'm hard on them," he said. "But, hey, they're making a lot of money. I'm making a lot of money. There's nothing wrong with expecting something for your money. All I ask is that a guy give it everything he has. After the game, if a player can say that, he won't have any trouble with me."

Almost everyone who knows Williams said that, eventually, there will be trouble. There always has been. He has been a major league manager for 20 years and has lasted longer than three seasons with just two teams -- four seasons with the Expos and four with the Padres.

By last season in San Diego, he was being ripped by several players, including Steve Garvey. The criticisms were that Williams simply couldn't tolerate mistakes, and that, eventually, players get tired of being screamed at.

By the end of the season, team president Ballard Smith and General Manager Jack McKeon were ready to fire Williams and pay him off for the final year of his contract. Instead, team president Joan Kroc stepped in, only to produce a temporary peace.

"That's all past history," Williams said. "I will say this: Joan Kroc is one of the finest people I've ever known. She's a fine, fine lady. I can't say enough about her. The rest of it . . . Well, let's forget that."