Wednesday, 17 July 2013


                           BLACK          SOCIAL             HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Billy Leo Williams  born June 15, 1938 is an American former professional baseball outfielder who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) primarily for the Chicago Cubs. In 1961, Williams won the National League (NL) "Rookie of the Year" award. A highly competitive player on Chicago Cubs teams that never reached the post-season, he finally played in the post-season late in his career with the Oakland Athletics. Like his former Cubs teammates Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, and Ron Santo, he never played in a World Series. Williams was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987.

Williams was born in
 Whistler, Alabama. He began his major league career in 1959, a career which nearly stopped before it got under way. Growing up in an integrated neighborhood in the Mobile suburb, he had never experienced overt racial discrimination until he played for the Cubs minor league club in San Antonio, Texas. He was so discouraged that he left the team and went home. Buck O'Neil, the Cubs scout who had originally discovered Williams, was dispatched to Whistler and he persuaded Williams to try again.

Major League Baseball

Chicago Cubs

Williams advanced quickly through the minor league ranks, joining a Cubs team that would feature stars such as Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, and Ron Santo by the early 1960s. Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, who by 1960 was serving as a scout and coach in the Cubs organization, was an early mentor for Williams, and predicted he would someday win a batting title. Williams was selected as the Rookie of the Year in 1961. Williams also set a National League record for consecutive games played with 1,117 between 1962-71 (eclipsed by Steve Garvey 1975-83 with 1,207). As his consecutive games streak began to accumulate, he was dubbed "Iron Man" by some writers, and co-authored a 1970 book called Iron Man. Cleo James replaced him in the lineup at the end of his streak. From 1961 to 1973, Williams annually hit at least twenty home runs and was responsible for eighty-four or more RBIs.

Billy Williams in 1961.
His batting swing was smooth and efficient, with quick wrist action that allowed him to hit for both average and power despite his slender frame. Early in his career he acquired the nickname, "Sweet-Swinging Billy Williams", sometimes shortened to "Sweet Williams" or "Sweet Billy" (perhaps suggested by the flowers known as sweet williams), which was referenced in the subtitle of his autobiography, he was also nicknamed "Sweet-swinging Billy from Whistler," suggesting his birthplace in Alabama.
He was primarily a left fielder, but he was also placed in right, center and first base from time to time. During 1965-66 he played primarily right field, as other players were tested in left. Toward the end of his Cubs career he began to be placed at first base, and in 1974 he played more games at first than in left. Williams was better known for hitting than for defense, but he made crucial catches in two different no-hitters by Cubs pitchers: Ken Holtzman in 1969, andMilt Pappas in 1972.
Williams had a short, crisp unspectacular batting style, nevertheless, he was one of the most respected hitters of his era. In his rookie year, he clouted 25 home runs, including two grand slams, and drove in 86 runs. His home run feats included hitting 20 or more home runs for 11 straight seasons, hammering three homers in one game and five in two consecutive games. Twice in one season, Williams belted four extra-base hits in a game. In 1970, Williams batted .322 with 42 homers and 129 RBIs and finished second in National League Most Valuable Player voting.
Player of the Year
In 1972, he was the National League batting champion and named the major league Player of the Year by The Sporting News. Williams enjoyed his finest season in 1972 at age 34, when he paced the league in batting average with a .333 mark, also posting a .606 slugging percentage while collecting 37 home runs and 122 runs batted in. He finished behind Johnny Bench in the MVPselection. 1972 was his last great season in the National League.

Oakland Athletics

Williams was traded to the American League's Oakland Athletics after the 1974 season for second baseman Manny Trillo and two pitchers. He helped lead Oakland get to the 1975 American League West championship as a designated hitter, hitting 23 homers with 81 RBI. He retired in 1976.

Major League honors

Williams accumulated a lifetime .290 batting average with 426 home runs and 1475 RBI's.

Hall of Fame

Billy Williams was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. Williams credited a grade school teacher with encouraging him to always try to improve, citing the old saying, "Good, better, best / Never let it rest / Until the good is better / And the better is best." (Billy Williams: My Sweet-Swinging Lifetime with the Cubs, by Billy Williams and Fred Mitchell, Triumph.
On August 13, 1987, Williams' uniform number 26 was retired at Wrigley Field. His was the second number to be retired by the Cubs, the first being Ernie Banks' number 14. Following his departure from the Cubs, the number had been reassigned to other players from time to time, most notably Larry Biittner, although Williams reclaimed it during several intervals of coaching with the Cubs after his playing days had ended.

All-Century Team

In 1999, he was named as a finalist to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
During the 2010 season, the Cubs honored Williams with a statue outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago. The statue was unveiled in a pre-game ceremony before their home game on September 7 against the Houston Astros.

Golden Era Committee

(Golden Era, 1947 to 1972)
In 2011, Williams was appointed as a member of the Hall of Fame's new 16-member Golden Era Committee (8 Hall of Fame members) which can consider 10 Golden Era candidates identified by the Baseball Writers Association of America appointed Historical Overview Committee, for the Hall of Fame, every three years. His former Cubs teammate and friend, Ron S

anto, was the first and only Golden Era candidate elected to the Hall of Fame by "The Committee" during their winter meetings, in December 2011.[5]