Results tagged ‘ Billy Williams ’

4/15 Thank you, Jackie

April 15 is a special day for Hall of Famer Billy Williams.

“It really gives you a good feeling,” Williams said in the Cubs clubhouse before all the players donned No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball on this date in 1947.

Forty years after that, Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The sweet swinging outfielder from Whistler, Ala., wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues or make it to Cooperstown if not for Robinson.

“When I look around and see the variety of players in the Major Leagues, all of it reverts back to No. 42, Jackie Robinson, who walked on Ebbets Field in 1947,” Williams said. “He made it possible that if you’re good enough, it doesn’t matter what color, origin, where you’re from, if you’re good enough you could play in the Major Leagues.

“When I look at ’42’ out there, that’s what I see,” Williams said. “I see the variety of players from different countries, different cultures, just enjoying themselves like they did when they were coming up as a young man. It gives you a great feeling.”

Williams, now a senior advisor on the Cubs staff, talked in his induction speech to Cooperstown in 1987 about how then commissioner Happy Chandler had to lobby the owners to let Robinson in.

“One of the statements Happy Chandler made when he talked to the owners was, ‘Fellas, one day, I’m going to have to meet my maker, and I don’t want to tell him I kept this guy out of the Major Leagues because he was black,'” Williams said.

“After I made my speech in New York [at the Hall], [Chandler] said, ‘A lot of people have talked about it and told the story but you’re the only one who got it right,'” said Williams, who received a long thank you letter from Chandler.

— Carrie Muskat

3/31Cubs to honor Billy Williams

The Cubs will honor Hall of Famer Billy Williams with a statue of the left fielder, to be unveiled Sept. 7 outside Wrigley Field. New owner Tom Ricketts told Williams and his wife Shirley on Tuesday night at a team function. The location is yet to be determined, but it may be temporary. One of the plans connected to the so-called Triangle building to be constructed along Clark Street includes a pedestrian walkway. Williams’ statue could be located close to left field with Banks’ statue remaining near Clark and Addison streets.

“”It’s a great tribute,” Williams said Wednesday.

The statue will be engraved with Williams’ nickname, “Sweet Swinging.”

“It’s a great tribute and his legacy will live on forever,” Lou Piniella said. “A statue of Billy on one side and Ernie on the other, it doesn’t get any better than that. It’s well deserved and a well thought gesture by the Ricketts family.”

It’s nice to see that one of the first moves by the Ricketts is to honor the past.

“They said they were fans,” Piniella said. “This is a gesture in that direction.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/19 All in the family

Hall of Famer Billy Williams will be going to Cooperstown for more than the induction of Andre Dawson. Williams’ 12-year-old grandson, Jaran Simpson, who is a shortstop, will be playing in a Dream Game with a team from Wheaton and Naperville.

Jaran isn’t Williams’ only grandchild with some athletic talent. He has another grandson, William Hill, who is an outfielder on the Chicago State baseball team. Granddaughter Nicolette Simpson is a center fielder for the University of Illinois softball team. Another grandson, Kendall Simpson, is a catcher. “I call him ‘Campanella,'” Williams said.

He also has another grandson, Christian, who is a first baseman, and a granddaughter, Jasmine, who competes in track and field at the University of Iowa.

“I guess it’s in their blood,” Williams said.

— Carrie Muskat

1/15/10 Welcome to the club

Andre Dawson received the loudest and longest ovation during opening ceremonies at the Cubs Convention on Friday at the Chicago Hilton. Dawson was recently elected into the baseball Hall of Fame, and even though it hasn’t been determined which cap he’ll wear in Cooperstown, the Cubs fans saluted him. Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg also are attending the Cubs Convention.

Jenkins was asked if he taught Dawson the secret Hall of Fame handshake.

“No,” Jenkins said, laughing. “I just asked him, ‘What took you so long?'”

— Carrie Muskat

12/11 Dominican trip

Want to know what it’s like to play with the Cubs in the Dominican Republic? Check out this YouTube video:

If my link attempt doesn’t work, go to YouTube and do a search for “Chicago Cubs Dreams La Romana”

Good to see Billy Williams swinging a bat. He still has a sweet swing. Ernie Banks, Carlos Marmol, Aramis Ramirez and Sean Marshall also are featured.

— Carrie Muskat

9/22 D-Lee RBIs

Assuming Derrek Lee drives in one more run in the next nine games for the Cubs, he will have at least 20 RBIs in each of the last four months.

The most recent Cubs to accomplish that feat — and their RBIs totals for June, July, August and September — include:

1998 Sammy Sosa: 158 RBIs total (June 40; July 29; August  28; September  22)

1972 Billy Williams: 122 RBIs (June 23; July 29; August 26; September 26)

1959 Ernie Banks: 143 RBIs (June 26; July 27; August 24; September 21)

1957 Ernie Banks: 102 RBIs (June 22;, July 24; August 21; September 22)

Note: September and October numbers are not combined)

— Carrie Muskat

9/8 A little history …

The Cubs now have collected eight straight hits to start a game twice against the Pirates. Besides Tuesday’s game at PNC Park, the Cubs also did so on April 21, 1973, at Wrigley Field. Rick Monday homered to lead off the first against Nelson Briles. Glenn Beckert singled, Billy Williams singled, Joe Pepitone hit a RBI single, and Ron Santo hit a RBI double.

The Pirates then brought in Robert Johnson to replace Briles, and Jose Cardenal greeted him with a two-run double. Randy Hundley singled, Don Kessinger hit a RBI single and Fergie Jenkins struck out to end the streak. Rick Monday then picked it up again with a single and Beckert, in his second at-bat, grounded into a double play. The Cubs led 6-2 at that point, and the game was delayed 85 minutes because of rain.

The weather didn’t cooperate and the game was suspended at the end of the sixth with the Cubs leading, 10-8. It was completed July 26, 1973, with the Cubs winning, 10-9.

— Carrie Muskat

9/7 Big 3-0

Derrek Lee belted his 30th homer in the first inning Monday, belting the first pitch from Daniel McCutchen to straightaway center. With the home run, Lee now is the eighth player to have at least three 30-homer seasons for the Cubs. The list includes Sammy Sosa (11 seasons), Ernie Banks (seven), Billy Williams (five), Ron Santo (four), Hank Sauer (four), Hack Wilson (four) and Aramis Ramirez (three).

The 30 homers are the most by Lee since he hit 46 in 2005.

— Carrie Muskat

8/25 Sing along

Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Logan Pause and John Thorrington of the Chicago Fire will lead the Wrigley Field crowd in the seventh inning stretch on Wednesday. Chicago Bears great Gale Sayers will do so Thursday, followed by the Plain White T’s on Friday.

Former Notre Dame coach and college basketball analyst Digger Phelps will lead the crowd on Saturday. Sunday is to be determined. On Aug. 31, Hall of Famer Billy Williams will sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” followed the next day by Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. On Sept. 2, it will be former Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas and Ron Santo will close the homestand on Sept. 3.

— Carrie Muskat

A little help from his friends

Milton Bradley credited Hall of Famer Billy Williams with getting him back on track at the plate, and teammate Reed Johnson for helping him get his head straight.

Bradley went 2-for-5 Monday in the Cubs’ 10-8 loss to the Pirates, hitting a two-run double in the third and a two-run homer in the fourth. It’s the first time he’s had four RBIs in a game since setting a career-high of six on Aug. 24, 2007, at Philadelphia.

The Cubs outfielder, now batting .198, was quoted in a Chicago Tribune story as saying he felt umpires were expanding his strike zone after his argument in April with umpire Larry Vanover that resulted in Bradley’s ejection and subsequent suspension. Lou Piniella was not happy reading Bradley’s comments and said Monday nothing good could come from that.

“Reed put his foot in my [butt] today — figuratively, not literally,” Bradley said after Monday’s game. “He got me back to where I needed to be. I talked to Billy and he told me a few mechanical things he saw and it was a good night. It’s a long way to go.”

Johnson wasn’t available for comment and Bradley said the advice was “between teammates.” As for hitting, Williams apparently looked at some of Bradley’s swings on the video and talked to the outfielder about making a few adjustments.

Getting Bradley on track is one step to getting the Cubs back on track. The losing streak is now eight games.

“We just have to bear down and be professional and make it happen,” Bradley said. “Nobody’s going to hold your hand. It’s a man’s game.”

— Carrie Muskat