Chicago Cubs: A quick rise through the ranks, one sweet swing at a time
Upon arriving in Ponca City, he appeared in just 13 games that summer while playing in the Sooner State League. He tallied just 17 at-bats and four base hits and didn’t travel with the team during road trips. The following year, in 1957, he played in his second season in Oklahoma, emerging as one of the league’s premier hitters. He blasted 17 long balls and led the league with 40 doubles, possessing a .310 batting average along the way.
It wasn’t long before he rose through the minor league ranks and, by 1959, made his Major League debut for the Chicago Cubs during the final month of the season, in which he played in 18 games. In 1960, he again spent almost the entirety of the year in the minors before hitting .277 with two home runs during the final 12 games of the Cubs’ season.
By 1961, Williams became an everyday player for the Chicago Cubs and a staple for years to come. His .278 average, 25 home runs and 86 RBI helped him capture the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
His next several years were consistent, an adjective that would epitomize Williams to the nth degree. Throughout the 1960s, he averaged 162 games, 28 home runs, 95 RBI and posted a stout .293 batting average. This consistency stemmed from his meticulous dedication of studying opposing pitchers from the dugout and the on-deck circle.
He was admired and touted for his picture-perfect swing just as Ken Griffey Jr. would be a few generations later. His graceful stroke earned him the nickname, “Sweet Swingin’ Billy.”
"“(Williams’ swing) was “probably one of the shortest swings in baseball, and one of the prettiest,” said teammate Ron Santo."
Williams credits former batting coach, Rogers Hornsby for teaching him to focus with the utmost awareness and discipline at the plate during the infancy of his career.
Despite his admired swing and consistent ability to be productive in the lineup day in and day out, Williams wasn’t known as a household name.