July 7, 1945 |
|May 4, 1968, for the Chicago White Sox|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 30, 1977, for the Cleveland Indians|
|Runs batted in||591|
|Career highlights and awards|
William Edwin Melton (born July 7, 1945), nicknamed "Beltin' Bill" or "Beltin' Melton", is a former third baseman in Major League Baseball who played from 1968 through 1977 for the Chicago White Sox, California Angels and Cleveland Indians. He is now a commentator for Comcast SportsNet White Sox broadcasts.
Melton was signed as a minor league free agent directly out of high school prior to the 1964 season and was assigned to the White Sox rookie league Sarasota White Sox. After spending 1965 back at Sarasota, this time with the A-League Sarasota Sun Sox, Melton made steady progress through the White Sox system, playing for the A-League Fox Cities Foxes, AA Evansville White Sox, and AAA Hawaii Islanders (and Syracuse Chiefs while on loan to the Yankees organization). At each level, he displayed the two characteristics that he would be known for throughout his playing career: a powerful bat and questionable fielding.
Melton made his major league debut on May 4, 1968 and was a mainstay at third for the White Sox for the next seven years. After leading the Sox in home runs in 1969 with 23, Melton came into his own in 1970, hitting 33 home runs and again leading the team. In 1971, Melton had arguably his best season as he made the all-star team and led the American League with 33 home runs – the first time a White Sox player had led the league in home runs. Melton's production declined in 1972 after he missed most of the season with two herniated discs resulting from trying to break his son's fall from their garage roof. The injury sapped his power such that he would not again hit more than 21 home runs in a year. Before his back problems, Melton was a popular player, but when his play began to suffer due to his back injury, he became the target of fans and media. Melton especially drew the ire of White Sox broadcaster Harry Caray, who often railed against Beltin' Bill for his fielding problems. Never good with the glove, finishing either third or fourth in the league for errors by a third baseman every year except his rookie and injury-shortened 1972 seasons, Melton led the league with 24 errors in 1974 and 26 in 1975.
Following the 1975 season, Melton was traded to the Angels along with pitcher Steve Dunning for outfielder Morris Nettles and first baseman Jim Spencer, but his production continued to decrease as he hit .208 with 6 home runs in 118 games and he clashed with manager Dick Williams. Following the 1976 season, he was traded again, this time to the Indians for a player to be named later (ultimately relief pitcher Stan Perzanowski) and cash. After appearing in only 50 games for the Indians in 1977, hitting only .241 with no home runs, he retired following the season.
After working with his father manufacturing skateboard wheels and becoming a real estate agent following retirement, Melton took a position as a community relations representative for the White Sox 1992. In 1998, Melton was hired by WGN to be a White Sox pre- and postgame television analyst. In 2005, he was hired by Comcast SportsNet Chicago in a similar position.
Until 1987, Melton was the White Sox' all-time home run leader. He was passed in 1987 by Harold Baines, who was then overtaken by Carlton Fisk in 1990. Fisk was later bypassed by Frank Thomas. He is currently eighth on the White Sox all-time home runs list and tenth on the team's all-time strikeouts list.