Chester Arthur Williams
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 180 lb.
Chester Williams was known as a well-rounded infielder during 13 years in the Negro Leagues, primarily for the Pittsburgh Crawfords. He made the East-West Game four times. He was considered a scrappy, hustling type of player.
Williams broke in with the 1931 Crawfords, a team which included three other Williamses in the infield - Bobby Williams, Harry Williams and Bucky Williams. In 1932, Chester hit .302 in a limited role. In 1933, he became the starter at second base and batted .250. The next year, he played shortstop primarily and improved to .295. He was picked for the 1934 East-West Game and went 3 for 4 with a double, playing second base and hitting 8th for the East as their top performer in a 1-0 victory.
At age 27, Chet batted .245 and made the 1935 East-West Game as the backup to SS Willie Wells. Williams went 0 for 2 with a walk, a run and an error for the West. He only hit .185 in a postseason series with the New York Cubans. In 1936, Williams managed just a .223 mark for the Negro National League champions. For the 1936 East-West Game, he drew 6,674 votes at short, the most of anyone, 372 more than Wells. Starting for the East, he hit 6th but went 0 for 4 with an error and an RBI. In exhibition play, he went 6 for 17 in a series against Jim Weaver, Bob Feller, Jim Winford, Mike Ryba and Earl Caldwell. He went 1 for 10 in another exhibition against Ted Lyons, Jack Knott, Vern Kennedy and Earl Whitehill.
Though Pittsburgh was fading, Williams had his best year in 1937, batting .383, second only to Josh Gibson in the NNL. He was reportedly offered $1,000 to jump to the Dominican League that year but did not do so. Ches was 0 for 3 with a RBI as the starting second baseman and #6 batter for the East in the 1937 East-West Game. For a post-season Series, he joined the Homestead Grays and was 6 for 13 at the plate. Overall, he had hit .231/~.286/.308 in 4 East-West Games, with two errors.
1939-1941: Cuba and Mexico
In the 1939-1940 Cuban Winter League, Williams hit .298/?/.324 for Santa Clara.
In 1940, Chet jumped to the Torreon Cotton Dealers and hit .344/~.387/.486 with only 9 strikeouts in 311 AB; he drove in 76 runs in 74 games.
With Cienfuegoes in the 1940-1941 Cuban Winter League, Chet batted .299/?/.345.
He only hit .254/~.293/.268 for Torreon in 1941, though he scored 16 in 16 games. He hit .327/~.372/.445 overall in the Mexican League.
1941-1943: The last years
Back in the USA, Williams joined the Homestead Grays as the starting shortstop in 1941 after leaving Mexico and hit only .205. He didn't play as often the next season and then went 2 for 11 in the 1942 Negro World Series. Chet split his last year between the Memphis Red Sox and Chicago American Giants
Williams was shot to death in the night club he operated, the Cotton Club, in Lake Charles, LA, on Christmas nine years after retirement. Throughout his career, he had several off-the-field events that could have been risky and he was known as a free spirit. According to the story of his death in the Pittsburgh Courier, he was shot five times, and that he inflicted wounds to his killer with an ice pick.
The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley, 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, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo, Pittsburgh Courier, 3 January 1953, page 1