- OF, 2B, 1B
- July 28, 1890
- 170 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 7-14-1915 with CIN
The left fielder in one of the greatest outfields in baseball history, double-threat Ken Williams was ahead of his time. In 1922 he became the first man to collect 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in the same season, a feat not equaled for 34 years. Despite a late start (he wasn't a regular in the majors until he was 30 years old), Williams slugged 196 homers and batted .319, while leading the American League in slugging, total bases, homers, RBI, and extra-base hits at various times in his career. An aggressive player with few friends outside his own team, Williams earned the distinction of being Ty Cobb's most hated opponent.
"Brownie Stalwart of the 20s" said his obituary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. For those with long memories, Ken Williams was one of the cherished, lamented, never-quite-made-it team that finished a game behind the Yankee pennant-winners of 1922. He and the Browns had their best year together. A well-built six-footer who batted left and threw right, Williams led the league in home runs (39) and RBI (155) that year, hit .337 and stole 37 bases. This made him the first player ever to hit 30 home runs, steal 30 bases and hit .300. In one game he swatted three homers, in another, two in one inning; in between he had six in as many consecutive games. He had a pleasant, gap-toothed smile and was popular with teammates and fans.
Born and raised in Grants Pass, OR, Ken was the small-town boy who made it to the big leagues. He was the only ballplayer among six brothers whose mother had been a logging-camp cook and later operated an all-night restaurant serving the train crews when Grants Pass was a junction point on the railroad.
It took him a while to make it. After a two-year trial with Cincinnati, he was returned to the high minors, spent most of 1918 in the military, and began to see action wioth the Browns in 1919. The following year the club put together its finest outfield, with Ken in left, Baby Doll Jacobson in center, and Jack Tobin in right. Williams's numbers were always respectable, if not outstanding. In 1925, although he missed some games after being skulled by a pitch, he led the league with a slugging percentage of .613.
The Browns sold him to Boston, where he put in two more .300 years. Portland (PCL) had him for two more, and at 41 he retired to Grants Pass.
Home Run Facts
On April 25, 1922, Williams homered for the fourth straight game, giving him six home runs in four games to tie Babe Ruth's record set in 1921. He homered again four days later and ended the month with nine home runs. Ruth, who was suspended for the first few weeks of the season, never caught up, and Williams won the home run crown.
On April 22, 1922, Williams hit three homers (with George Sisler on base each time) and two singles against the visiting White Sox, to lead St. Louis to a 10–7 win. He became the first AL player to hit three home runs in a game.
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- Ken Williams