Cy Williams

From 1915 through 1927, Williams was one of the National League‘s most prolific sluggers, winning or sharing four home run titles and finishing among the league’s top three in homers 11 times.

An architecture student at Notre Dame, Williams became a fine collegiate sprinter and hurdler and played football with Knute Rockne. Yet it was as a strong-hitting centerfielder that he gained the attention of the Cubs, who brought him directly to the majors after his graduation.

Williams tied New York’s Dave Robertson for the NL lead with 12 HR in 1916. Nevertheless, in one of the worst deals in Cubs history, he was traded (after a less productive 1917 season) to Philadelphia for 36-year-old Dode Paskert. Williams starred for the Phillies. His dead-pull, lefthanded stroke was ideally suited to Baker Bowl. It was for Cy that the first “Williams shift” was created; managers would load up the right side with fielders, knowing it was unlikely he would hit the ball to left.

Williams’s 15 homers in 1920 won him his second crown. In 1923 he hit 41, 19 more than the NL runner-up, to tie Babe Ruth for the ML lead. He shared his last title with Chicago’s Hack Wilson, hitting 30 in 1927. He hit 12 inside-the-park homers and seven grand slams, and his 11 pinch homers were a record until 1960. From 1918 through his last season, he raised his career batting average every year. He topped the .300 mark six times, with a high of .345 in 1926.

In each of his first 14 seasons, Williams played for a different manager, including Tinker, Evers, and Chance. After his retirement, he became a prominent architect in Eagle River, Wisconsin.