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Billy Williams
Born: 1938

OF-DH-1B 1959-76 Cubs , A

Billy Williams's Teammates

  • Led League in ba 72
  • All-Star in 1962, 64-65, 68, 72-73
  • Hall Of Fame in 1987

Career 2488.2904261475
League CS 3.00000

Sweet-swinging Billy Williams quietly carved out a Hall of Fame career. Often overshadowed by flashier players during his heyday, he was a dependable star for 14 full seasons as a Cub. From September 22, 1963 to September 2, 1970, he established a National League record of 1,117 consecutive games played that stood until Steve Garvey broke it in 1983. He also set NL marks for games played by an outfielder in one season (164 in 1965) and consecutive years with 600 or more at-bats (nine, from 1962 to '70, broken by Pete Rose). He tied major league records with five homers in two consecutive games (September 8 and 10, 1968), and four consecutive doubles in a game (April 9, 1969).
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Book Excerpts
» "[W]hen he first came up, he really wanted to quit. He got disillusioned": Ernie Banks

» Major League Leaders Who Weren't: 1961's Unbalanced Schedule by Fred Worth
» Al Heist: The Best Center Fielder You Never Heard Of by Bob Allen
» Left Field Gold Gloves - National League by Paul White

The Alabama native, inspired by the feats of Hank Aaron, signed with the Cubs in 1956. A lefthanded hitter, he batted better than .300 at every minor league level and had brief trials in Chicago in 1959 and 1960. Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby worked with him at Houston (American Association) in '60 as a roving instructor, and told the Cubs front office that Williams belonged in the majors. Hornsby proved correct. Williams batted .278 with 25 HR and 86 RBI in 1961 to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award, but received little publicity in light of Mickey Mantle's and Roger Maris's accomplishments that year. That was the first of 13 straight seasons in which Williams delivered at least 20 HR and 84 RBI.

Two of Williams's greatest games came in 1968; he hit for the cycle on July 17, and hit three homers on September 10. But he was stuck on a losing club, and overshadowed by the jovial Ernie Banks and the outspoken Ron Santo. The arrival of Leo Durocher, another flamboyant figure, brought winning back to the Cubs, with Williams leading the way. June 29, 1969 was designated Billy Williams Day at Wrigley Field; the man of honor broke Stan Musial's NL record of 896 consecutive games played, and went 5-for-9 as the Cubs took two from the Cardinals. Chicago seemed pennant-bound that year, but fell before the late-season charge of the "Amazing" Mets. While many of the Cubs slumped, Williams hit .304 in September.

Williams had his most productive season in 1970, leading the NL in hits and in runs scored, and finished second to Johnny Bench in HR (42) and RBI (129). In 1972, he hit .333 to win the NL batting crown. That July 11, he went 8-for-8 in a doubleheader. He finished second to Bench in the RBI race and in NL MVP voting, but was named TSN ML Player of the Year.

Williams never played in a World Series. His best chance came after he was traded to Oakland for Darold Knowles, Bob Locker, and Manny Trillo after the 1974 season. Williams was, by then, perfect for the DH role, and helped the A's to a fifth straight divisional title. But the Red Sox kept Williams and the A's from the WS with a sweep in the LCS.

Williams retired after batting .211 in 1976 and returned to the Cubs as a coach and batting instructor. He served Oakland in the same capacity in 1983-85, then went back to the Cubs. On his sixth try, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987. The following year, he moved into Chicago's front office. (ME)
» June 23, 1961: Ernie Banks voluntarily takes the bench as a sore knee brings his 717 consecutive-games-played streak to an end. The streak started August 26, 1956. The Bank-less Cubs still win 5–3 over the Braves at Wrigley. Joe Adcock, who applied the hidden ball trick last August 31 to George Altman, nabs another Cub, Billy Williams in the 8th.

» June 20, 1963: Larry Jackson allows just four Houston hits, and Billy Williams cracks two homers and a double, as the Cubs win, 5–0. Former Cub Dick Drott is the loser.

» May 1, 1964: The visiting Cubs make it look easy, scoring 10 runs in the first inning to shoot down the Colt 45s 11–3. Billy Williams has a grand slam and a single for five RBIs (a club record) in the big inning, and adds a run-scoring double in the 8th to lead Chicago.

» May 24, 1964: Lou Brock steals home for the first time, combining with Billy Williams on a double steal in the 1st inning of Game One at Cincinnati.

» September 2, 1965: The Cubs beat St. Louis 5–3 at Wrigley Field, as Ernie Banks hits his 400th home run, a three-run shot off Curt Simmons, in the 3rd. Simmons teed up the 400th home run of Willie Mays in 1963. Banks will end the season with 28 home runs and 106 RBI. Ron Santo and Billy Williams will also knock in over 100 runs, the only team with three such sluggers, but the Cubs will finish 8th.

» July 17, 1966: The Cubs clip the Cardinals, 7–2, behind the pitching of Ken Holtzman and the slugging of Billy Williams, who hits for the cycle.

» July 3, 1967: At the launching pad in Atlanta, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and Randy Hundley homer for Chicago, and Rico Carty and Felipe Alou answer for the Braves—all in the first inning, a major league record. Carty adds another homer later, but Glenn Beckert's three-run shot helps put the game out of reach. Ray Culp emerges the winner, 12–6.

» May 21, 1968: The Cubs climb above the .500 mark the first time all season with a 6–5 win over the Phillies. Chicago's Billy Williams sets a record for outfielders by playing his 695th straight game.

» July 31, 1968: Chicago's Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Jim Hickman hit 4th-inning home runs as Fergie Jenkins (12-10) beats the Astros 6–1 at Wrigley Field.

» September 10, 1968: Billy Williams hits three home runs in a game for the first time in his career. It's all the Cubs' scoring, as they beat the Mets 3–1 behind Bill Hands. Added to two home runs on September 8th, Williams has a ML-record-tying five over two straight games.

» April 9, 1969: Billy Williams ties the major-league record for doubles in a game with four straight in Chicago's 11–3 win against the Phillies.

» May 13, 1969: Cubs 1B Ernie Banks has seven RBI—including his 1,500th—on two 3-run homers and a double in Chicago's 19–0 blowout against San Diego, matching the biggest shutout margin in modern National League history. Cubs pitcher Dick Selma is the recipient, allowing just three hits, while Dick Kelley takes the loss. The Pads swapped Selma earlier in the season and he gives the Cubs their 3rd shutout in a row. Banks, Billy Williams and Randy Hundley leave after Oliver's home run in the 6th makes it 14–0, and Don Young caps a 5-run 7th with a 3-run homer. Selma's shutout follows consecutive shutouts by Ferguson Jenkins and Ken Holtzman.

» June 29, 1969: On Billy Williams Day in Chicago, the Cubs outfielder passes Stan Musial's National League record for consecutive games played (896). The Cubs sweep the Cardinals 3–1 and 12–1 before 41,060.

» July 14, 1969: At Wrigley, the Cubs top the Mets 1–0 to give Bill Hands (11–7) the win over Tom Seaver (14–4). Billy Williams singles home the winner, boosting the Cubs lead to five 1/2 games. After the last out, Ron Santo jumps up and clicks his heels, igniting a roar from the crowd. The Mets think it's bush.

» August 19, 1969: Cub Ken Holtzman (14-7) pitches the 5th no-hitter of 1969. Ron Santo's 3-run home run off Phil Niekro provides first-place Chicago with a 3–0 win against Atlanta. Holtzman is the first no-hit hurler with no strikeouts since Sam Jones (on September 4, 1923). LF Billy Williams, with his back against the vines, hauls in Aaron's drive in the 7th to preserve the no-hitter.

» September 5, 1969: Billy Williams has all four of Chicago's hits, as the Cubs lose a 9–2 decision to Steve Blass and the Pirates. There's nothing cheap about Billy's hits -- two doubles and two homers -- as he sets an National League record for most hits in a game with no other hits, tying the major-league record of Norm Elberfeld (August 1, 1903). Blass helps his own cause with his only ML homer, a 3-run blast, off Ken Holtzman, and three singles. The win is Pittsburgh's first at Wrigley since July 5, 1968, a string of 13 losses. They'll win the next two to sweep the series and drop the Cubs lead to two 1/2 games.

» April 30, 1970: In a 9–2 loss to the Braves, the Cubs Billy Williams becomes the first player in NL history to play in 1,000 consecutive games.

» May 8, 1970: A record 30 home runs are hit by NL players in seven games, including two apiece by each of five players. The 20 MPH wind at Wrigley produces nine homers as the Cubs defeat the Reds, 10–7, snapping the Reds win streak at eight games. Hal McRae and Tony Perez have a pair for the Reds while Billy Williams has two for Chicago.

» May 12, 1970: At Wrigley, Ernie Banks becomes the 8th member of the 500 home run club, connecting off Pat Jarvis during a 4–3 eleven-inning Cub win over the Braves. It his 1,600th career RBI. Frank Secory, an ex-Cub, is umpiring this game, and he was one of the umpires in the 1953 game in which Banks hit is first homer. Billy Williams' homer in the 9th ties the game and Ron Santo's RBI single in the 11th wins it. Atlanta's Rico Carty, meanwhile, has three singles and has hit in 30 consecutive games.

» July 16, 1970: Chicago's Ken Holtzman gives up two hits and two Astro runs—both unearned—and drops a 2–1 decision at Houston. Billy Williams makes a bid for a game-tying homer in the 9th but his long fly hits an Astrodome speaker and drops foul.

» July 24, 1970: 25th For the 4th time in his career, Billy Williams has the only hit for the Cubs, as he connects safely twice against the Braves Phil Niekro. Each time previously, Williams also had multiple hit games to spoil no-hitters. Niekro coasts to a 9–0 victory over Fergie Jenkins.

» August 19, 1970: Fergie Jenkins homers and his teammates add another six as Chicago coasts over San Diego, 12–2. Jim Hickman (2), Glenn Beckert, Johnny Callison, Joe Pepitone, and Billy Williams also round trip for Chicago. Six of the Cub homers are solo shots and San Diego adds a solo homer: the seven solo homers by two teams sets a National League record and ties the ML mark set on April 29, 1962.

» August 22, 1970: Hal Lanier's 8th inning single is the only hit Ken Holtzman allows in the Cubs, 15–0 mauling of the Giants. Gaylord Perry gives up eight runs in one 1/3 inning to seal the outcome for the Giants. Joe Pepitone and Billy Williams each have a double, homer, and score three runs.

» September 3, 1970: After an National League record 1,117 consecutive games, Billy Williams asks to sit one out. Without Williams, the Cubs beat the Phillies 7–2.

» September 18, 1970: The Cubs sweep a pair from Montreal, winning 3–2 and 5–4. Fergie Jenkins wins his 20th in game 1, helped by Billy Williams' 40th homer of the year. Phil Regan is the victor in game 2.

» November 18, 1970: Johnny Bench wins the National League MVP Award with 326 points, 108 more than the Cubs Billy Williams. Bench had 45 homers, 148 RBI, and a .293 average for the Reds. His 355 total bases is a record for a catcher, one that will be tied by Mike Piazza in 1997.

» April 6, 1971: Before 41,121 at Chicago, Billy Williams clubs a 10th inning homer off Bob Gibson to give the Cubs a 2–1 win over the Cards. Joe Torre's homer, off Fergie Jenkins, is the only Cardinal score.

» May 15, 1971: Fergie Jenkins (7–2) pitches and bats the Cubs to a 6–4 win over San Diego. Jenkins hits a 2-run home run and finishes his 7th game in eight starts. Billy Williams connects for his 300th home run.

» September 15, 1971: At Shea Stadium, Mike Jorgensen hits a 2-out single in the 7th to break Burt Hooton's no hit bid, and Ken Singleton follows with a homer to tie the match at 2–2. But Billy Williams clocks a pinch homer in the 9th and Hooton finishes the 3–2 victory with 15 strikeouts, notching his first ML win. In opener of the twi-night DH, Bill Hands beats Jerry Koosman, 6–2. Hands starts the Cubs' scoring with a 2-run single in the 2nd.

» June 30, 1972: Joe Pepitone rejoins the Cubs after a brief retirement, and is 1-for-4 in the Cubs, 4–3 win over the Pirates. Rick Reuschel allows two hits in seven 1/3 innings before leaving with a twisted ankle, but picks up the win. Billy Williams drives in three runs for the Cubs.

» July 11, 1972: Cub Billy Williams goes 8-for-8 in a doubleheader split with the Astros. The Astros win the opener 6–5, and the Cubs take the nightcap 9–5. Williams is 5-for-5 in the 2nd game to raise his average to .328. He'll go 3-for-5 and 4-for-5 in his next two games as he will go on a 22-for-38 tear.

» July 21, 1972: Billy Williams drives in six runs to lead the Cubs to an 11–3 win over the Astros. Williams has four hits, including a double and homer to give Bill Bonham (1–0) his only win of the year. Ken Forsch takes the loss.

» September 8, 1972: Beating the Phils 4–3, Fergie Jenkins wins his 20th, the 6th consecutive year he's reached the mark. This ties the Cubs club record set by Three Finger Brown, 1906-11. Billy Williams 2-run home run in the 6th ties it at 3–3, and a pair of doubles in the 8th wins it.

» November 22, 1972: Johnny Bench wins the National League MVP with 263 votes to 211 for runner-up Billy Williams. It is Bench's 2nd award in three years.

» September 19, 1973: Chicago's Ron Santo and Billy Williams celebrate their long association together by each hitting their 20th homer of the season in an 8–6 win over Montreal. It is number 325 for Santo and 376 for Williams in more than 2,000 games together.

» May 24, 1974: With the game scoreless in the 9th, the Cards put runners on 1B and 3B with one out. Tim McCarver grounds to Cubs 1B Billy Williams who fires home to C Tom Lundstedt to snag Ted Simmons in a rundown. But as soon as Lundstedt throws to 3B Matt Alexander, Simmons races home to an uncovered plate. Cards win, 1–0.

» October 23, 1974: The Cubs trade sweet-swinging Billy Williams, a fixture at Wrigley for 16 years, to the A's for 2B Manny Trillo and pitchers Darold Knowles and Bob Locker.

» June 12, 1975: Milwaukee defeats Oakland 9–7 to move within four games of first. Oakland's Billy Williams's 400th career home run is matched by Hank Aaron's first home run in Milwaukee since 1965.

» August 16, 1976: With the help of three picked-off Oakland runners at 1B, the first such occurrence in the American League since 1910, the Brewers beat Oakland 4–3. Another oddity happens when Oakland's Billy Williams is called out on strikes after refusing to enter the batter's box. He is then thrown out of the game.

» November 9, 1976: Oakland releases Billy Williams, ending his Hall of Fame career with 2,711 hits, 426 home runs, 1,475 RBI, and a .290 average.

» April 16, 1983: Padres 1B Steve Garvey plays in his 1,118th consecutive game, breaking Billy Williams' National League record. Garvey goes 2-for-4 in an 8–5 Padres loss at Los Angeles.

» January 8, 1986: Willie McCovey is the only player elected this year to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, and becomes the 16th player elected in his first year of eligibility. Billy Williams falls four votes shy of the 319 needed for election.

» January 14, 1987: Catfish Hunter and Billy Williams are elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA.

» July 26, 1987: Catfish Hunter, Billy Williams, and Ray Dandridge are inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

» November 8, 1989: Cubs OF Jerome Walton wins the National League Rookie of the Year Award, collecting 22 of 24 first-place votes to defeat teammate Dwight Smith. They are the first NL teammates to finish 1-2 in the voting since the Phillies Jack Sanford and Ed Bouchee in 1957. Walton is the first Cub to win rookie honors since Billy Williams, in 1961.