Who was your hero?
Mine was Hall-of-Famer Billy Williams. #26. Left fielder of the Chicago Cubs for 14 years.
Ernie Banks was the bubbly Mr. Cub. Ron Santo was loud and out there. These players had huge followings. But it was sweet-swinging Billy Williams that I was drawn to.
He wasn't flashy. He just went out and played hard every day (including a streak of 1,117 games in a row, the National League record at the time) and smashed the ball. That's what I liked about Billy, he just played the game and let his bat do his talking. His quietness may have kept him from the spotlight as a player, but the sportswriter recognized his greatness by voting him into the Hall of Fame in 1987.
Among my favorite Billy Williams memories:
- making a great catch in the well at the wall to save Ken Holtzman's no-hitter in 1969
- Hit great seasons in 1970 and 1972, losing out to Johnny Bench for the MVP each time.
- while in the on deck circle, Billy would spit and then swing and hit it. I think every kid Cub fan during this era (me included) tried to do this, too.
Here are all the Topps Billy Williams cards in my collection, starting with his rookie card from 1961 through his final card (with him looking totally out of place in an A's uniform) from 1976
This is the scorecard from Billy Williams Day at Wrigley Field on June 29, 1969. This was the day he became the National League record holder for consecutive games played. He had a monster day. The card, from game two, shows he went 4 for 5 with 3 RBI's. And no, I wasn't at the game, I bought the card on ebay.