"I told you so!" Hernandez shouted. "I told you so!"
Williams didn't need any reminding.
The last player added to the postseason roster, Hernandez got the biggest outs for Chicago on Friday when he pitched out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam to help the White Sox beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3 and sweep the defending World Series champs out of the playoffs.
"Words can't describe the job that he did," Williams said. "The coaches lobbied hard for him and they had some convincing to do. But I'm the guy who signed him -- and go back to your notes and take a look at the reason why."
Hernandez, who made the roster instead of talented rookie Brandon McCarthy, is 9-3 in the postseason and was on the mound to finish off the Red Sox for the Yankees in the 1999 ALCS. This time, he helped the White Sox win their first playoff series since Shoeless Joe Jackson's team won it all way back in 1917.
Two years later, Jackson's "Black Sox" took payoffs from gamblers to throw the Series. Eight men were out -- banned from baseball for life -- and every White Sox player since has lived with a longer but lesser-known "curse" than the supposed one the Red Sox busted when they ended their 86-year drought last season.
Paul Konerko hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off Tim Wakefield.
"Finally, we make another big step," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "They have waited a long time for this moment. And this team is making it happen this year."
The White Sox, who let Cleveland erase most of a 15-game lead in the AL Central, will have home-field advantage in the AL Championship Series against either the Yankees or Angels.
"We're not done. I don't think we're satisfied," said Paul Konerko, who hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth. "I think we match up well in this next series with anybody."
The defending champion Red Sox were the first team knocked out of this year's playoffs.
Boston had hoped for its first repeat titles since 1915-16, but for the second time in three years its season ended thanks to a Tim Wakefield knuckleball that went over a left field wall. In the middle came an unprecedented rally against the Yankees and a World Series sweep that set off a celebration throughout New England.
"Everybody that was on that team can take that to their grave," Wakefield said.
For the third time in a week, champagne sprayed in Fenway's clubhouses. First came the Yankees and their AL East title; the Red Sox clinched the wild card the next day.
On Friday, smoke from specially stamped cigars wafted through the visitors' clubhouse as old-timers such as Minnie Minoso and long-timers like Harold Baines talked about the years the White Sox waited for a playoff win.
"This is something that I've not seen before. I'm glad that my team did it, and I know that we're going to go all the way," said Minoso, 82 years old and, like El Duque, a Cuban. "We want to do things like the Boston Red Sox did."
The Red Sox cut it to 4-3 when Manny Ramirez led off the sixth with his second homer of the game and then loaded the bases -- still with none out. But Hernandez got pinch-hitter Jason Varitek and Game 2 goat Tony Graffanino to pop up before Johnny Damon struck out on a check swing to end the inning.
"He's probably got the most heart of any pitcher I've ever been around. That's the story of the night for me," Konerko said. "Bases loaded, no outs against the best offense in the major leagues and he comes out of it."
Graffanino, whose error before Tadahito Iguchi's three-run homer was the difference in a 5-4 loss on Wednesday night, fouled off four pitches with two strikes; Damon also worked the count full, but Hernandez got him on a pitch in the dirt.
"You never get used to it," Hernandez said through a translator. "People think just because you've done it in the past, you'll do it again. ... The most important thing is to have a little bit of good luck."
The White Sox lost in the '19 and '59 Series and the '83, '93 and 2000 playoffs. With the three-game sweep, they are the first team to advance to the second round of the playoffs, where they will play the winner of the Angels-Yankees series that was tied 1-1 heading into Friday night.
The Red Sox were knocked out of the playoffs before Curt Schilling even got a chance to pitch. The star of the 2004 postseason was scheduled to start Saturday in Game 4.
"We wanted to close it out today. You don't want to give the ball to Schilling tomorrow," Konerko said. "Who knows what he can do? We've seen his act. He's pitched pretty well in the playoffs, so we didn't want to go there."
On a windy and overcast day with rain threatening to extend the series but the White Sox dead-set on finishing it, they took a 2-0 lead in the third with four consecutive hits off Wakefield -- doubles by Uribe and Scott Podsednik and singles by Iguchi and Jermaine Dye.
David Ortiz and Ramirez hit consecutive homers in the fourth to tie it, but Garcia escaped in the fifth after Damon doubled with two outs and Edgar Renteria walked. With Ortiz on deck and the crowd in a full-throated "MVP!" chant, pitching coach Don Cooper came out to the mound to settle his pitcher.
Ortiz swung at the first pitch and hit it hard to straightaway center field but, unlike his first homer, the wind wasn't able to carry this one. Aaron Rowand gathered it in a few steps in front of the wall, about 400 feet from home plate.
The Red Sox didn't homer in the first two games while Chicago hit six -- five in a 14-2 win in the opener -- to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. But Ramirez hit his 19th and 20th career postseason home runs, passing Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle and second only to Bernie Williams (22); in Mantle's time, there was no league championship series and Jackson played in the era before wild-card teams.
The Red Sox had won eight of their last nine games when facing elimination, rallying from an 0-2 deficit against the Athletics in the first round of the 2003 playoffs and then beating the Yankees in four straight last year en route to their first World Series title since 1918.
"I know all of us enjoyed it," Damon said. "There were tons of books and DVDs that made it seem it was easy to accomplish. It wasn't."
Wakefield gave up Aaron Boone's game-ending homer in the 11th inning of the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees. ... Rowand is 11-for-16 against Wakefield.