From BR Bullpen
Jesse Harold Williams
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 160 lb.
- High School Jackson High School (Texas - which one?)
Jesse Williams played shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs from 1939 to 1947, the Indianapolis Clowns from 1948 to 1950. He was considered an outstanding fielder and middling hitter. He began his career with the Monarchs in 1939 as a utility infielder, becoming the starting shortstop the following year.
In 1940, Jesse hit .430 to lead the Negro American League by .088 over Buck O'Neil. He batted .222 as Kansas City's second baseman in 1941. He was 0 for 2 in an exhibition against Bob Feller and Ken Heintzelman that fall. Back at short in 1942, Williams batted .315, coming close to the top five in the NAL. He also batted .471 in the four-game 1942 Colored World Series. Prior to the Series, he bet Josh Gibson he would collect more hits than the Homestead Grays star; he figured that "we had better pitching than they did" - and the gamble paid off, as Williams had more hits than any of the Homestead batters to help Kansas City take the title. Williams was 1 for 4 against Dizzy Dean, Johnny Grodzicki and Al Piechota in an exhibition in the fall.
The Henderson native hit .287 in 1943, third on Kansas City behind future big leaguers Willard Brown and Hank Thompson. He was the leadoff hitter and shortstop for the West in the 1943 East-West Game and starred, going 2 for 3 with a steal and a sacrifice bunt in a 2-1 win. He was the only player in the contest to get multiple hits even though it featured future Hall-of-Famers Brown, Gibson, Buck Leonard and Cool Papa Bell among other stars.
Jesse fell to .259 in 1944. In the 1944-1945 California Winter League, Williams tied Wild Bill Wright for the best average (.421) and hit the most doubles, 3 in five games. He moved to second base in 1945 and helped train Jackie Robinson as the new shortstop, returning to short when Robinson moved up to Organized Baseball. Williams hit .253, last on the Monarchs, in '45. He hit leadoff for the West and played second base in the 1945 East-West Game, going 2 for 5 with a triple and a game-high 4 RBI (among those he outproduced were Hall-of-Famers Leonard, Roy Campanella, Willie Wells and Robinson). It would be his last East-West Game.
He jumped the team during the 1946 season, playing 96 games for the Tuneros de San Luis Potosi in the Mexican League, hitting .277/.356/.373 with six triples and a team-leading 16 stolen bases. He returned to the Monarchs before the end of the year, but missed a large part of the season due to arm injuries. In the 1946-1947 Cuban Winter League, Williams hit .260 as a utility man for the Almendares Blues, the pennant-winners.
He played in the minor leagues in 1952, batting .251/.351/.306 for the Vancouver Capilanos with 72 walks, 20 stolen bases and 73 runs. He fielded only .881 at third base (54 games) but .952 at short (64 contests). He was 1 for 6 for the 1954 Beaumont Exporters to end his career at age 35.
He lived in Kansas City, Missouri the remainder of his life, dying there in 1990.
- The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley
- Innings Ago by Jack Etkin
- Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo
- The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway
- Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester
- The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros
- The California Winter League by William McNeil
- 1953 Baseball Guide