Monday, May 02, 2011

#220 Billy Williams

#220 Billy Williams
Just like that, we're back to the Hall of Famers. As a younger(ish) baseball fan, Billy Williams seems to be a great player who's become overshadowed. Even on his own team, he was dwarfed by larger-than-life personalities like Ernie Banks and Ron Santo. Thoughts?

Fun facts about Billy Williams:

-A native of Whistler, AL, Billy was a teenager when he signed with the Cubs in 1956.

-He had brief trials in Chicago in 1959 and 1960 before earning the regular left field job in 1961. That year he became Rookie of the Year thanks to a .278 average, 25 home runs, and 86 RBI. More impressively, his 115 OPS+ would turn out to be the second-lowest of his long career.

-Williams earned his first All-Star nod in 1962, when he batted .298 and was second on the Cubs with 22 home runs and 91 RBI. He also led the team with 94 runs scored and 70 walks.

-He set a National League record by playing in 1,117 consecutive games between 1962 and 1971. Steve Garvey eventually surpassed his mark in 1983.

-Claimed another Senior Circuit record by hitting five home runs over the span of two games, Sept 8 and Sept 10, 1968. Remarkably, Leo Durocher replaced him in left field with Jose Arcia in the eighth inning of the latter game; it became moot, as Williams' spot in the batting order did not come up again before the end of the contest.

-In 1970, Billy led the National League with 137 runs scored and 205 hits. He batted .322 and set personal bests with 42 home runs and 139 RBI, but was a distant second to Johnny Bench in MVP voting.

-April 6, 1971 saw the Cubs and Cardinals put on an Opening Day classic. Fergie Jenkins and Bob Gibson dueled into the tenth inning with the score tied 1-1. In the bottom of the tenth, Williams won the game with a solo home run off of Gibson, one of ten career homers he hit off of the St. Louis ace.

-His greatest all-around year was 1972, when he topped the N.L. with a .333 average, .606 slugging percentage, and 348 total bases. He also clubbed 37 homers and drove in 122. Once again, Bench bested him in the MVP race, but by a closer margin (263 points to 211).

-Williams spent the final two years of his career as a designated hitter in Oakland, participating in the 1975 ALCS for his only postseason experience. He retired in 1976 with a .290 average, .361 on-base percentage, and .492 slugging. He totaled 426 home runs and 1,475 RBI.

-Billy coached for the Cubs (1980-1982, 1986-1987, 1992-2001) and Athletics (1983-1985). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987, having to wait until his sixth year on the ballot to gain entry. The Cubs retired his #26 that same year.
#220 Billy Williams (back)


  1. I agree, Billy Williams was overshadowed during his career. He also played on the '60s Cubs which didn't help. I had to scan down to the end of your entry to see if he made it to the Hall.

  2. Doug - Yeah, I guess the Cubs' postseason drought would contribute to a lack of national exposure.