Chicago Cubs: The Heroes of Wrigley Series presents Billy Williams

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COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Hall of Famer Billy Williams is introduced during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Clark Sports Center on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Hall of Famer Billy Williams is introduced during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Clark Sports Center on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: A one-man show becomes a three-man band

During the late 1950s, Ernie Banks had been a virtual one-man show in Chicago, well on his way of becoming one of the greatest players to ever wear a Cub uniform.  However, by the early 1960s, the team had developed a young core around Banks, headlined by newcomers Santo and Williams. In 1965, the talented trio combined for 95 home runs and 315 RBI.  After finishing in third place in 1967 and again in 1968, the Cubs seemingly looked like they were ready to break through during the summer of 1969.

On June 29, 1969, the Cubs were set to play a doubleheader against their division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.  Before the start of the second game, the Cubs honored Williams, as that game would officially mark his 896th consecutive game, breaking the National League record that was previously held by St. Louis legend, Stan Musial.  Williams repaid Chicago for the ceremony by going 4-for-5, driving in three runs off two triples and a double, and scoring three runs himself, in a 12-1 shellacking of the Redbirds.

That game saw the Cubs reach their 50th win by the end of June and, for the first time in years, the team looked like contenders, destined to play in their first World Series since 1945. That also meant Williams had a chance to taste postseason play for the first time in his career.

For five months, the Cubs were the talk of the league and they held a five-game lead over the New York Mets going into the final month of the season.  Malignant team play that saw the Cubs drop eight in a row gave the “Miracle Mets” the opportunity to overtake first place en route to a World Series title over the Baltimore Orioles.

During the infamous late season downfall, Williams remained perhaps the only productive Cub in the lineup.  In that final month, he batted .278 with six home runs while the rest of the team contributed a mere .215 average and 17 home runs.

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