Note: This page links to Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams. For the former major league outfielder who played in 1969, click here.
Billy Leo Williams
(Sweet Swingin' Billy from Whistler)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 175 lb.
Outfielder Billy Williams could hit for power, for average, and was an "iron man," playing in 1,117 consecutive games. Though often overshadowed by his Chicago Cubs teammates Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, and Ron Santo, Williams was nonetheless elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987.
The younger brother of minor league Franklin D. Williams, Billy grew up in Mobile, Alabama at the same time as Willie McCovey. After high school, he was offered a scholarship to play football at Grambling State University, but he instead decided to pursue a baseball career.
Signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1956, Williams reached the majors briefly with the club in 1959 and 1960. After starting in rightfield for the Cubs on Opening Day, he struggled, hitting just .211 with no home runs in April. He was benched for a time, but in mid-June, he was moved to leftfield and began to heat up. On June 16th, the day after his 23rd birthday, he hit a game-winning grand slam against the San Francisco Giants, and he went on to start every game for the remainder of the season. He ended the year with a .278 average, 25 home runs, and 86 RBIs and was named 1961 NL Rookie of the Year. His 25 homers were a Cubs record for a rookie until Kris Bryant came along in 2015. He would go on to hit more than twenty homers in the next dozen seasons.
In 1962, Williams made the National League All-Star team for the first of six times in his career, and the following September, he began a streak of 1,117 consecutive games played. He did not miss a game in seven years and broke Stan Musial's NL record (since broken by Steve Garvey). He hit for the cycle in a July 17, 1966 game against the St. Louis Cardinals and clubbed three homers in a September 10, 1968 contest against the New York Mets.
Williams had his finest year at the plate in 1970, hitting .322 with 42 home runs and 129 RBIs and leading the NL with 205 hits and 137 runs scored, but finished second in Most Valuable Player Award voting that year to Johnny Bench. Two years later, he won a batting crown with a .333 average, clubbed 37 homers, and drove in 122 runs, but again finished behind Bench for the MVP.
Following the 1974 season, Williams was dealt to the Oakland Athletics. He finished his career with two disappointing seasons there in 1975 and 1976, primarily playing designated hitter, but saw his only post-season action in the 1975 ALCS.
Following his playing days, Williams was a Cubs coach from 1980 to 1982 and was a member of the Oakland Athletics staff from 1983 to 1985. He returned to coaching for the Cubs in 1986 and 1987 and again from 1992 to 2001.
- 1961 NL Rookie of the Year Award
- 1961 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
- 6-time NL All-Star (1962, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1972 & 1973)
- NL Batting Average Leader (1972)
- NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1972)
- NL OPS Leader (1972)
- NL Runs Scored Leader (1970)
- NL Hits Leader (1970)
- 3-time NL Total Bases Leader (1968, 1970 & 1972)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 14 (1961-1973 & 1975)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 5 (1964, 1965, 1968, 1970 & 1972)
- 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1970)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 3 (1965, 1970 & 1972)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 5 (1964-1966, 1969 & 1970)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 3 (1964, 1965 & 1970)
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1987
|NL Rookie of the Year|
|Frank Howard||Billy Williams||Ken Hubbs|
- Tied MLB record by hitting four doubles in a game, April 9, 1969
- Hits, most in a game with all of team's hits, 4, 9/5/69 (tied) box score
- Ritter Collett: "Billy Williams Proud of Line Drive Complex: Rose rates him NL's best all-around lefty hitter", Baseball Digest, August 1968, pp. 25-26. 
- James Enright: "Billy Williams, Quiet Man Who Swings Fast Bat", Baseball Digest, September 1969, pp. 21-24. 
- John Kuenster: "Quick Bat Gives Cubs' Williams a Fast Rise: Has strong, whippet-action wrists", Baseball Digest, January 1962, pp. 47-50. 
- Barney Kremenko: "Billy Williams - Above-Average Player: How Hornsby improved his hitting", Baseball Digest, October 1964, pp. 84-86. 
- Fay Vincent: "Billy Williams", in We Would Have Played For Nothing, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2008, pp. 285-312.
- Billy Williams (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, February 1975, pp. 62-64. 
- Billy Williams and Fred Mitchell: My Sweet-Swinging Lifetime With the Cubs, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2008.