Billy Williams is undoubtedly one of the most beloved Chicago Cubs players of all-time. That didn’t just happen – the Whistler, Alabama native endeared himself to fans with a sweet swing, 426 career home runs and much, much more during his 16 years on the North Side.
But on this date, June 29, back in the unforgettable 1969 season, Williams played his 896th straight game, passing Cardinals legend Stan Musial’s record set back in 1957. It was almost poetic that he did so playing in a doubleheader against St. Louis at Wrigley, in which the Cubs swept both contests.
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That night, Williams put on a show on what Chicago dubbed ‘Billy Williams Day’ – smacking a pair of triples, a double and a single in a lopsided 12-1 victory. The Cubs outfielder turned in yet another solid season in ’69, playing a key role for the 92-win team.
Durability is something that often went overlooked back then. In today’s game, though, it’s truly remarkable that, over a 10-year span from 1962 to 1971, Williams averaged 161 games a year – leading the league in games played in five of those seasons.
This streak continued on before finally drawing to a close during the 1970 campaign at a staggering 1,117 games – the sixth-longest streak in MLB history even today.
Chicago Cubs: Billy Williams left it all on the field with a smile on his face
Today, Williams is known for his lovable demeanor and the smile that’s always on his face when you see him at the Friendly Confines or Cubs Convention. But for the younger generation of fan who never knew him as a player, learning about his playing days really puts his Cubs career in perspective.
- WAR (fifth), slugging percentage (eighth), OPS (10th), games played (third), runs scored (fourth), hits (third), total bases (second), doubles (fifth), triples (eighth), home runs (third), runs batted in (fourth) and base on balls (fifth)
You have to play for a long time and at an incredibly high level to find yourself in these spots on a franchise’s all-time rankings. Williams was at the yard every day and ready to put in the work – and looking back at this date in 1969 is just one small nod to the Hall of Famer’s astounding big league career.