Ken Williams (baseball)

Last updated
Ken Williams
Left fielder
Born:(1890-06-28)June 28, 1890
Grants Pass, Oregon
Died: January 22, 1959(1959-01-22) (aged 68)
Grants Pass, Oregon
Batted: LeftThrew: Right
MLB debut
July 14, 1915, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
August 10, 1929, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average .319
Home runs 196
Runs batted in 916
Career highlights and awards

Kenneth Roy Williams (June 28, 1890 – January 22, 1959) was an American professional baseball player. [1] He played as an outfielder in Major League Baseball from 1915 to 1929. Williams began his major league career with the Cincinnati Reds before spending the majority of his playing days with the St. Louis Browns, and finally ended his career playing for the Boston Red Sox. [1] He batted left-handed and threw right-handed. [1] Williams was the first member of Major League Baseball's 30–30 club, for players who have reached the 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases plateaus in the same season. [2]

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Outfielder defensive position in baseball

An outfielder is a person playing in one of the three defensive positions in baseball or softball, farthest from the batter. These defenders are the left fielder, the center fielder, and the right fielder. An outfielder's duty is to try to catch long fly balls before they hit the ground or to quickly catch or retrieve and return to the infield any other balls entering the outfield. Outfielders normally play behind the six other members of the defense who play in or near the infield.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.


Playing career

Williams began his professional baseball career in 1913 at the age of 23, playing for the Regina Red Sox of the Western Canada League. [3] In 1914, he played for the Edmonton Eskimos before moving to the Spokane Indians in 1915. [3] After posting a .340 batting average in 79 games for the Indians, he made his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds on July 14, 1915. [1] He hit for a .242 average in 71 games for the Reds during the peak of the dead-ball era when only 6 players in the league hit above the .300 mark. [4] He played in only 10 games for the Reds in 1916, spending most of the season with Spokane and with the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. [1] [3] Williams hit 24 home runs along with a .313 batting average for Portland in 1917 before being purchased by the St. Louis Browns. [3]

Professional baseball is played in leagues throughout the world. In these leagues and associated farm teams, baseball players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system.

The Western Canada League was the name of three different baseball circuits in Minor league baseball which operated between 1907 and 1921.

Williams was drafted into the United States Army in April 1918, and appeared in only two games for the Browns that season. [5] He returned to the Browns in 1919 and hit .300 with 6 home runs in 65 games. [1] In 1920, Major League Baseball outlawed specialty pitches such as the spitball and experienced a subsequent jump in the league batting averages as well as home runs. [6] In Williams's first full season as a regular player in 1920, he posted a .307 batting average along with 10 home runs and 72 runs batted in. [1] He continued to improve in 1921 with a .347 batting average with 24 home runs, 117 runs batted in and a career-high .429 on-base percentage. [1]

The 1918 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 5th in the American League with a record of 58 wins and 64 losses.

The 1919 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 5th in the American League with a record of 67 wins and 72 losses.

Williams had the best season of his career in 1922, leading the American League with 39 home runs and 155 runs batted in, as the Browns finished the season one game behind the pennant-winning New York Yankees. [1] [7] 32 of his 39 home runs were hit at home in Sportsman's Park. [8] On August 7, 1922, during a game against the Washington Senators, he became the first player in American League history to hit two home runs in one inning. [9] [10] His 39 home runs topped Babe Ruth, who had led the league the previous four seasons, although Ruth had been suspended well into the 1922 season by Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for violating a curb on barnstorming. [2] [11] He was one of only two players to break Babe Ruth's twelve-year string in which he led the American League in home runs (the other being Bob Meusel). [11] Also in 1922, Williams also became the first player in major league history to have 30 home runs and 30-plus stolen bases in the same season; a feat which would not be achieved again until Willie Mays accomplished it with the New York Giants in 1956. [11]

The 1922 St. Louis Browns season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Browns winning 93 games, the only time in franchise history that the Browns topped the 90 win plateau. In the American League standings, the Browns finished in second place behind the New York Yankees. The Browns set a franchise record with 712,918 fans coming to watch the games. This was approximately 100,000 higher than the previous high.

American League Baseball league, part of Major League Baseball

The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League (AL), is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major league status. It is sometimes called the Junior Circuit because it claimed Major League status for the 1901 season, 25 years after the formation of the National League.

Pennant (sports)

A pennant is a commemorative flag typically used to show support for a particular athletic team. Pennants have been historically used in all types of athletic levels: high school, collegiate, professional etc. Traditionally, pennants were made of felt and fashioned in the official colors of a particular team. Often graphics, usually the mascot symbol, as well as the team name were displayed on pennants. The images displayed on pennants were either stitched on with contrasting colored felt or had screen-printing. Today, vintage pennants with rare images or honoring special victories have become prized collectibles for sporting enthusiasts. While pennants are typically associated with athletic teams, pennants have also been made to honor institutions and vacation spots, often acting as souvenirs. New pennants are made of stretched canvas over a wood frame and are used for every youth sport award and recognition. In addition the pennant is a popular branding item.

In August 1923, the Washington Senators came into possession of one of Williams' bats and discovered that it had been bored out and plugged with a lighter wood. [12] The bat was turned over to National League umpire George Hildebrand for investigation and the Senators protested all the victories by the Browns in which Williams had used the bat. [12] Williams explained that he had ordered the bat specially made, but when he received it, he found it to be too heavy, so he plugged it with a lighter wood. [12] He was cited in the 1924 Reach Guide for using a corked bat, although major league baseball hadn't ruled plugged bats illegal at the time. [11] [13] He finished the 1923 season with a career-high .357 batting average along with 29 home runs and 91 runs batted in and ended the season 15th in Most Valuable Player Award balloting. [1] [14]

The 1923 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 5th in the American League with a record of 74 wins and 78 losses.

George Hildebrand American baseball player

George Albert Hildebrand was an American left fielder and umpire in Major League Baseball who played 11 games for the 1902 Brooklyn Superbas and later umpired in the American League from 1913 to 1934. He is often credited as having invented the spitball while playing in the minor leagues. He was the umpire in four World Series, and his 3,331 games as an umpire ranked third in AL history when he retired.

In baseball, a corked bat is a specially modified baseball bat that has been filled with cork or other lighter, less dense substances to make the bat lighter. A lighter bat gives a hitter a quicker swing and may improve the hitter's timing. In Major League Baseball, modifying a bat with foreign substances and using it in play is illegal and subject to ejection and further punishment.

In November 1924, it was rumored that the Yankees were trying to trade for Williams, which would have teamed him with Ruth to make one of the most powerful home run combinations in baseball. However, St. Louis manager George Sisler's insistence on the Yankees trading Waite Hoyt for Williams was too high a price for Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert. [15]

George Sisler American baseball player and coach

George Harold Sisler, nicknamed "Gentleman George" and "Gorgeous George", was an American professional baseball player for 15 seasons, primarily as first baseman with the St. Louis Browns. From 1920 until 2004, Sisler held the Major League Baseball (MLB) record for most hits in a single season with 257.

Waite Hoyt American baseball player

Waite Charles Hoyt was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball, one of the dominant pitchers of the 1920s, and the most successful pitcher for the New York Yankees during that decade. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

Jacob Ruppert American businessman, politician

Jacob Ruppert Jr. was an American brewer, businessman, National Guard colonel and politician who served for four terms representing New York in the United States House of Representatives from 1899 to 1907. He also owned the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball from 1915 until his death in 1939.

Williams had another productive season in 1925, hitting .331 with 25 home runs and 105 runs batted in, and led the league with a .613 slugging percentage. [1] Williams continued to hit well for the remainder of his career with St. Louis until December 15, 1927, when he was purchased by the Boston Red Sox for $10,000. [1] He played two more seasons for the Red Sox, hitting for a .345 average in 1929 at the age of 39. [1] Williams returned to the minor leagues in 1930 to play two more seasons for the Portland Beavers before retiring in 1931 at the age of 41. [3]

Career statistics

In a fourteen-year major league career, Williams played in 1,397 games, accumulating 1,552 hits in 4,862 at bats for a .319 career batting average along with 196 home runs, 913 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .393. [1] He retired with a .958 fielding percentage. [1] As baseball evolved out of the dead-ball era, Williams finished in the top four in the American League in home runs in seven consecutive seasons (1921–1927). He posted ten seasons with a batting average above .300, and three seasons in which he scored more than 100 runs. [1] As of 2016, Williams' .319 career batting average ranks 53rd all-time in major league history. [16] His .924 career on-base plus slugging percentage and his .530 career slugging percentage, rank 45th and 48th respectively all-time among major league players. [17] [18] Williams holds the St. Louis Browns / Baltimore Orioles single season record for runs batted in with 155 in 1922. [19] He is the St. Louis Browns' all-time leader in on-base percentage (.403), slugging percentage (.558) and OPS (.961). [19]

Post-baseball life

Williams returned to Grants Pass and worked as a police officer before becoming owner and operator of the Owl Club, a restaurant and billiard parlor on G Street. [20] [21]

See also

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  17. "Career Leaders & Records for On-Base Plus Slugging". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  18. "Career Leaders & Records for Slugging Percentage". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  19. 1 2 "Baltimore Orioles Team Records". Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  20. Grants Pass Daily Courier, Downtown Tidbits [ permanent dead link ], September 11, 2008
  21. Josephine County Historical Society, Looking Back: Ken Williams, Young at Heart magazine, February 2012, page 10