Cy Williams

From BR Bullpen

1991 Conlon TSN #154 Cy Williams

Fred Williams

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Biographical Information[edit]

". . . great all 'round talent with a wealth of sheer natural ability which is unrivaled in the older circuit . . ." - Baseball Magazine, about Cy Williams

Cy Williams was a long-time major leaguer who actually got better as he got older, because it became easier to hit copious home runs in the 1920's. Most of his best years were in his mid to late 30's, and he went out at age 42 hitting .471 in 21 games. He was the first National League player to hit 200 home runs.

Williams came to the majors directly out of the University of Notre Dame, where he had played football with Knute Rockne and was also a track star. He is said to have turned down an opportunity to compete in the 1912 Olympics in favor of playing major league baseball.

Cy broke in with the Chicago Cubs for six years, right after their greatest years. He was with them from 1912 to 1917. They had finished first in 1910, and they were to finish first again in 1918. He was second in the National League in home runs in 1915. His best year was 1916, when he hit 9 triples and 12 home runs. The 12 home runs led the league. That year, an article written about him in Baseball Magazine was titled "The Greatest Outfielder in the National League".

Traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Dode Paskert, his success increased greatly as the lively ball era started. Although he was in the top three home run hitters every year from 1918 to 1927, as the number of home runs increased, his value increased. In 1918, it took only 6 home runs to be second in the league, but by 1920 he led the league with 15 home runs and in 1923 he was up to 41 home runs. Typically, it was Rogers Hornsby, Gavvy Cravath, or Jack Fournier that he battled for the home run lead.

His batting average also shot up in the lively ball era, to a peak of .345 in 1926, when he was fourth in the league. That season, he became the first player in history to hit two walk-off grand slams in a season. His feat would not be matched until Jim Presley for the 1986 Seattle Mariners. Steve Pearce was the third to do so, for the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays.

He played until he was 42 years old, and for seven years, he was one of the ten oldest players in the league. He led the league in at-bats-per-home-run five separate times during his career. He also was typically among the leaders in hit-by-pitch.

He was managed by each of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance, as well as by Hank O'Day, who had been the plate umpire on the day of the Merkle Bonehead Play in 1908.

He became an architect after retiring from baseball.

None of the ten most similar players, using similarity scores, is from his era - showing how unique he was - and none of them seems convincingly similar. Since Cy was a prodigious home run hitter, an outfielder with good range, and a speedy player when young, one might compare him to Ken Griffey Jr.. Pictures of him show a tall player with the same kind of build as Griffey and Ted Williams.

Cy Williams ranked as one of the four most prolific sluggers in baseball history based on the number of homers hit vs. the league average.

He once hit a grand slam in the 10th inning, but his team still lost, as the opposing team had scored five runs in the top of the inning.

Although Cy Williams benefited from hitting many of his home runs in cozy Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, a study by Richard Lederer concluded that Cy would still rank as a great home run hitter even if he had played in a more typical stadium.

  • Managers used a "Ted Williams" shift in the outfield for him, many years before it was ever used for Ted Williams.

"said by many competent judges to be the fastest runner in the national game" - from a newspaper article explaining why Cy Williams hit so many in-the-park home runs

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 4-time NL Home Run Leaders (1916, 1920, 1923 & 1927)
  • 2-time NL OPS Leader (1916 & 1926)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1926)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1922-1924 & 1927)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1923 & 1927)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1923)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1924)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1923)

Related Sites[edit]