Gus Williams (outfielder)
Williams as a member of the St. Louis Browns, c. 1911–15.
May 7, 1888|
|Died: April 16, 1964
|April 12, 1911, for the St. Louis Browns|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 18, 1915, for the St. Louis Browns|
|Runs batted in||147|
|Career highlights and awards|
August Joseph "Gus" Williams, Jr. (May 7, 1888 – April 16, 1964), known also as "Gloomy" Gus Williams, was a German American professional baseball player whose career spanned 10 seasons, five of which were spent in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the St. Louis Browns (1911–15). Over his major league career, Williams batted .263 with 171 runs scored, 367 hits, 58 doubles, 31 triples, 12 home runs, 147 runs batted in (RBIs), and 95 stolen bases in 410 games played. Williams career started out in 1909 with the Monmouth Browns of the Class-D Illinois–Missouri League. After playing in the minor leagues for two seasons, Williams made his major league debut in 1911. He had another stint in the majors in 1912. In 1913, Williams served as the Browns regular outfielder. He was a dead-ball era power hitter for the Browns, ranking in the top-10 amongst American League hitters in home runs during the 1913 and 1914 seasons. He led the league in strikeouts in 1914. Williams would make his last appearance in the major leagues during the 1915 season. He would go on to play in the minors with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1915), Nashville Volunteers (1916), Louisville Colonels (1917), and Indianapolis Indians (1918). In the minors, he compiled a career batting average of .293 with 838 hits in 759 games played. Williams also played semi-professional baseball after leaving the professional circuit. He batted and threw left-handed. During his baseball career, Williams stood at 6 feet (180 cm) and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg).
Gus Williams was born on May 7, 1888 in Omaha, Nebraska to August, Sr. and Clara Williams of Indiana, and Illinois, respectively. The two had four other children, Frank, Ross, Reed, and Weston. August Williams, Sr., whose parents hailed from Germany, was a fire chief in Omaha. Gus Williams had five siblings; sisters Mamie, Carie, Louisa, and Theresia; and brother Harry. Harry would go on to play two seasons with the New York Yankees (1913–14). For much of his adolescent life, he worked in a meat packing plant in Omaha. In 1908, Williams tried out with the Lincoln Railsplitters as a pitcher. He was turned away from their training camp after he was too "wild". Later in 1908, he signed with the minor league Marion Diggers of the Class-D Ohio State League, again as a pitcher. However, Williams joined a semi-professional league and did not play with the Marion club.
Early minor league career (1909–1910)
In 1909, Williams signed with the minor league Lincoln Railsplitters, who he had tried out with a year before. Lincoln then farmed Williams out to the Monmouth Browns of the Class-D Illinois–Missouri League. He was used as a pitcher for the Browns until June when manager John Corbett converted Williams to an outfielder. In September, a scout from the St. Louis Browns saw Williams play and reported back to the team's management that they should sign him. He was drafted later that month by the Browns in Major League Baseball's (MLB) rule 5 draft. The Browns had to pay Monmouth US$300 in accordance with the draft, but the Lincoln club contested the transaction, since Williams' contract was still owned by the Railsplitters. Baseball's National Commission ruled that Lincoln should receive the compensation from the Browns, since Williams was still under contract with them. Williams finished the season with the Monmouth club. He compiled a .327 batting average with 64 hits, 10 doubles, 15 triples, and two home runs. Williams finished the season first in the Illinois–Missouri League in slugging percentage (.555), tied for first in triples, and fourth in batting average.
Williams again played with the Monmouth Browns in 1910, who were now members of the Class-D Central Association. In July, as a member of the Monmouth club, Williams hit a home run during an exhibition game against the MLB Chicago Cubs, which ended in the Cubs favor by a score of 5–to–4. By the end of the season, Williams had compiled a .290 batting average with 138 hits, 30 doubles, 11 triples, and seven home runs in 128 games played. Amongst league batters, he was second in triples, third in total bases (211), and fourth in slugging percentage (.443). After the season, the St. Louis Browns stated their intent for Williams to make his MLB debut during the 1911 season.
St. Louis Browns (1911–15)
During spring training in 1911, Williams played with the St. Louis Browns. He made his MLB debut on April 12, against the Cleveland Naps. In that game, he had three hits, which included two doubles, in three at-bats. With the Browns that season, he batted .269 with one run scored, seven hits, three doubles, and four runs batted in (RBIs) in nine games played. He was assigned to the Omaha Rourkes of the Class-A Western League in mid-May. In July, Williams was benched due to poor play. The Lincoln Evening News stated that Williams had trouble hitting curveballs. On the season, Williams batted .303 with 149 hits 26 doubles, 15 triples, and 10 home runs in 128 games played. He was third in the league in home runs; and was tied for fifth in triples, and slugging percentage (.478).
Williams joined the Montgomery Rebels of the Class-A Southern Association at the start of the 1912 season. On June 17, Williams quit the Montgomery club after he stated it was too hot to play baseball in the area. He returned to his home-town of Omaha, where he played during the 1911 season where he asked the team for a contract. John Dobbs, the president of the Rebels telegraphed Williams at his home in Omaha that Montgomery would raise his salary if he returned to the team. However, Williams stated he did not want to return to the Montgomery team that season. In 57 games played with the Rebels that season, he batted .286 with 54 hits. Williams joined the St. Louis Browns in July. Williams made his MLB season debut on July 27, against the New York Highlanders. In that game, he got one hit, a double, in three at-bats. In August, Williams replaced Heinie Jantzen as the Browns every-day outfielder. Williams' first career MLB home run came on September 27, against Chicago White Sox pitcher Frank Lange. During the next game on September 28, Williams hit his second career home run, also against Frank Lange. On the season, he batted .292 with 32 runs scored, 63 hits, 13 doubles, seven triples, two home runs, 32 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases in 64 games played.
In 1913, Williams played his first full season in the majors. During spring training that season, he reportedly exceeded the expectations of St. Louis Browns manager George Stovall. In May, a syndicated column "Ball and Bat Notes" had a section calling Williams "one of the best fielders in the country". Williams batted .273 with 72 runs scored, 147 hits, 21 doubles, 16 triples, five home runs, 51 RBIs, and 31 stolen bases in 148 games played. Amongst American League batters, Williams was second in strikeouts (87); tied for fourth with Ty Cobb in triples; tied for fifth with Rube Oldring, and Danny Moeller in home runs; tied for sixth with Oldring in at-bats per home runs (107.6), and eighth in extra base hits (42).
Williams re-signed with the St. Louis Browns in March 1914. The Browns feared that Williams would sign with a Federal League team, since it was reported in February that he was in talks with the Kansas City Packers, however he continued his tenure with St. Louis. Williams led the American League in batting average until the beginning of June. At one point in the season, Williams was sustaining a .452 batting average, with Sam Crawford, and Shoeless Joe Jackson trailing behind that. On June 26, The Washington Post reported that Williams hit one of the longest home runs ever at Sportsman's Park. Sportswriter Charles Bartlett stated that St. Louis manager Branch Rickey was the reason for Williams success that year, writing: "Branch Rickey is the man who made a star of Gus Williams. Who ever heard of [Williams] playing the brand of ball he's been exhibiting this year". In July, Williams went into a slump, causing manager Rickey to position him at the sixth spot in the Browns batting order. On the season, Williams batted .253 with 51 runs scored, 126 hits, 19 doubles, six triples, four home runs, 47 RBIs, and 35 stolen bases. He led American League hitters in strikeouts that season (120). Williams was also tied for seventh with Howie Shanks, Marty Kavanagh, Tris Speaker, and Jimmy Walsh in home runs; and tied for ninth with Donie Bush, and Ty Cobb in stolen bases.
In late-February 1915, Williams re-signed with the St. Louis Browns, and reported to their spring training in Texas. Browns manager Branch Rickey stated before the start of the season that he expected Williams to have a more productive season then 1914. The Kingston Daily Freeman called Williams the "best bad ball player" that season. With St. Louis that season, he batted .202 with 15 runs scored, 24 hits, two doubles, two triples, one home run, 11 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases in 45 games played. He made his last MLB appearance on June 18.
Later career (1915–18)
On August 21, 1915 the St. Louis Browns traded Williams to the minor league Toronto Maple Leafs of the Double-A International League in exchange for a pitcher to be named later. On the season with Toronto, Williams batted .285 with 97 hits, 15 doubles, nine triples, and eight home runs in 90 games played. He finished the seasons fifth in the International League in home runs. After the season, Williams wrote Rowdy Elliott, the manager of the Oakland Oaks, requesting a chance to try out for the team. Elliott said that he was not interested in another left-handed hitter, as he already had outfielders Rube Gardner, and Robert Middleton, who were also left-handed. Before the start of the 1916 season, Williams signed with the Nashville Volunteers of the Class-A Southern Association. The Volunteers won the Southern Association Championship that year. As a member of the winning team, Williams received a cash reward, and supply of cake from a local Atlanta bakery. With the Volunteers, he batted .298 with 156 hits, 33 doubles, 13 triples, and five home runs in 138 games played. Williams led the league in doubles, was second in hits, tied for second with Joe Harris in total bases (230), and tied for third with Ham Hyatt in triples.
At the end of the 1916 season, Williams was selected by the Double-A Louisville Colonels of the American Association in the minor league draft. He played the entire 1917 season with the Colonels, batting .279 with 161 hits, 29 doubles, 24 triples, and seven home runs in 148 games played. Williams led the American Association in triples; was fifth in doubles; and tied for fifth with Dave Altizer, Johnny Beall, Ray Demmitt, Cozy Dolan, and Fred Nicholson in home runs. After the season, Louisville traded Williams, along with Red Corriden, to the Indianapolis Indians, who like the Colonels were members of the American Association. Williams batted in the lead-off spot in the Indians batting order. He primarily played right field for the Indians. The Indians were in talks with the St. Louis Cardinals to send Williams back to the majors, but negotiations fell through, resulting in him staying in Indianapolis. On the season, Williams batted .279 with 19 hits, four doubles, and three triples in 17 games played. That season would prove to be his last in professional baseball.
In July 1918, Williams signed with the semi-professional Allegheny Steel team, based out of Pittsburgh. By 1930, Williams was living in Sterling, Illinois with his wife Hazel, and their two daughters. Williams and his wife worked out of their own office as chiropractors. In 1942, Williams was working for a Stewart Warner in Sterling. Williams died on April 16, 1964 at the age of 75 in Sterling. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Sterling.
- General references
- "Gus Williams Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "Gus Williams Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- Inline citations
- 1900 United States Census, U.S. Census Bureau, 1900
- "Harry Williams Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- "Must Pay For The Player". The Nebraska State Journal. p. 4.
- "Diamond Dope". Lincoln Evening News. Lincoln, Nebraska. 3 September 1910. p. 3.
- "Diamond Dope". Lincoln Evening News. Lincoln, Nebraska. 23 August 1910. p. 3.
- "Heavy Major Draft". Sporting Life. Philadelphia. 54 (1): 2. 11 September 1909.
- "1909 Illinois-Missouri League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
- "1910 Monmouth Browns". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
- "Monmouth Gives Cubs Hard Fight". Chicago Tribune. 26 July 1910. p. 1.
- "1910 Central Association Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
- "Odds And Ends Of Sports". Lincoln Evening News. Lincoln, Nebraska. 24 January 1911. p. 6.
- "American League". Sporting Life. Philadelphia. 57 (7): 10. 22 April 1911.
- "Condensed Dispatches". Sporting Life. Philadelphia. 57 (11): 7. 20 May 1911.
- "Sporting Events". Lincoln Evening News. Lincoln, Nebraska. 29 July 1911. p. 6.
- "1911 Western League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "Billikens Give Out Lineup". The Atlanta Constitution. Atlanta. 4 March 1912. p. 6.
- "Sports". Lincoln Daily News. Lincoln, Nebraska. Omaha Bee. 21 June 1912. p. 3.
- "Southern Sayings". Sporting Life. Philadelphia. 59 (19): 20. 13 July 1912.
- "Brown's Bother". Sporting Life. Philadelphia. 59 (23): 13. 10 August 1912.
- "American League". Sporting News. Philadelphia. 59 (22). 3 August 1912.
- "Gus Williams Career Home Runs". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "Baseball Notes". The Pittsburgh Press. 16 April 1913. p. 16.
- "Bat and Ball Notes". Daily Commonwealth. Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. 14 May 1913. p. 7.
- "1913 American League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "Ten-Day Clause Out". Reno Evening Gazette. 11 April 1914. p. 2.
- "Tinker May Not Be Seen In Uniform". The Lewiston Daily Sun. 7 February 1914. p. 9.
- "[Untitled]". Sheboygan Press. Sheboygan, Wisconsin. 16 June 1914. p. 3.
- "Williams Still Tops Americans". The Atlanta Constitution. Atlanta. 3 May 1914. p. 11.
- "Browns By 2 To 0". The Washington Post. 27 June 1914. p. 9.
- "Branch Rickey Made Gus Williams A Star". The Pittsburgh Press. 19 May 1914. p. 28.
- "Rickey Shifts Batting Order". The Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, Florida. 25 July 1914. p. 6.
- "1914 American League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "Browns Advance Guard Arrives". San Antonio Light. San Antonio, Texas. 22 February 1915. p. 2.
- "Branch Rickey Sees Coming Star In Outfielder Williams". The Paterson Press. Paterson, New Jersey. 8 January 1915. p. 10.
- "Best Bad Baseball Player". Kingston Daily Freeman. Kingston, New York. 11 August 1915. p. 8.
- "Gene Paulet Signs With Branch Rickey". The Atlanta Constitution. 27 August 1915. p. 9.
- "1915 International League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- Fitz, Billy (5 December 1915). "Bill Abstein Would Like Job With 1916 Oaks". Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. p. 54.
- "Cash And Cakes Given To Nashville Players". The Atlanta Constitution (subscription required). Atlanta. 22 August 1916. p. 8. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "1916 Southern Association Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "Announce Initial Class A.A. Drafts". Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. 24 September 1916. p. 3.
- "1917 American Association Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "Where Does Milwaukee Club Get Off". The Toledo News-Bee. Toledo, Ohio. 12 April 1918. p. 21.
- "Williams Is Ideal Batter For Lead Off". The Indianapolis Star. 21 May 1918. p. 11.
- "Lajoie's Tribe Plays Clymers Here Tomorrow". The Indianapolis Star. 29 May 1918. p. 10.
- "Deal Fell Through". The Windsor Record. 7 May 1918. p. 35.
- "Allegheny Steel Has Signed Up Some Stars". The Pittsburgh Press. 23 July 1918. p. 20.
- "1930 United States Census", U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Federal Government
- U.S. World War II Draft Registration Card, U.S. Armed Forces, 1942
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