Williams was a hulking 6’4″ 225-lb righthander with blistering speed and teammate Don Drysdale‘s pitching personality. He loved to throw inside to batters and was widely, and appropriately, feared on the mound. But he never gained the control necessary to become a big winner.
Williams won the second game of the 1959 tie-breaking playoff with the Braves to give the Dodgers the first playoff victory in their history. They had lost in 1946 and 1951. He went to the second All-Star Game in 1960 (striking out two in two innings), a year in which he became a regular member of the Dodger rotation and finished 14-10 with a 3.00 ERA. He struck out 205 to finish second in the league behind teammate Sandy Koufax. He was a winner for the next two years, but his streak of wildness in a relief role cost the Dodgers the ’62 pennant in the playoff with the Giants and Williams was traded to the Yankees for Bill Skowron. He helped New York to another AL flag in 1963, going 9-8 with a 3.20 ERA, but he had an off-year in 1964. The Yankees sold Williams to the Indians and he was converted exclusively to relief. In December 1969 he was sent to the Twins with Luis Tiant for Graig Nettles and Dean Chance, and he contributed a 10-1, 15-save, 1.99-ERA record to the Twins’ second straight divisional title in 1970. He tied for the AL lead in relief wins in what proved to be his last good season. He later became a coach with the Yankees, serving as their “eye in the sky” by positioning the outfielders from the press box.