Ronald Keith Williamson
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0" , Weight 190 lb.
- High School Asher High School
- Born February 3, 1953 in Ada, OK USA
- Died December 4, 2004 near Tulsa, OK USA
Catcher Ronald Williamson was the 41st pick in the 1971 amateur draft, a second-round selection by the Oakland Athletics. He spent the 1972 season primarily with the Coos Bay-North Bend A's, hitting .265/~.341/.361 in 52 games. His 23 passed balls in 46 games behind the plate tied for the lead in the Northwest League. He also briefly was with the Burlington Bees, going 1 for 8 with four strikeouts in 7 games. In 1973, Ronald had a rotten year, hitting .137/~.247/.153 for the Key West Conchs with only 13 runs produced in 59 games. He fielded .947, the worst of any Florida State League catcher to play 15 or more games, and had 16 passed balls in 41 outings. He went 1 for 3 with two walks with Burlington.
Williamson's life went into a tailspin after that. He became a drug and alcohol addict and suffered from mental illness. In 1982, Debra Sue Carter, a waitress in a bar he often went to, was found dead. Williamson was cited as a suspect by the police five years later on flimsy testimony but was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1988.
After 11 years on death row, Williamson was cleared by DNA testing, and was finally freed from possible execution (as have been over one hundred other people). He died in a nursing home of cirrhosis five years after being freed. Best-selling novelist John Grisham read his obituary in The New York Times and made him the subject of his first non-fiction book, The Innocent Man, published in 2006.
Sources: 1972-1973 Baseball Guides, book reviews of The Innocent Man
- John Grisham: The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, Bantam Dell, Random House, New York, NY, 2006. ISBN 978-0385517232
- R. Robin McDonald: "Grisham Says Wrongful Conviction Still Haunts Him", in The Fulton County Daily Report, March 30, 2009.