On June 15, 1938, future Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams was born in Whistler, Alabama. His father Frank was a stevedore who had also played first base for the semipro Whistler Stars. Williams grew up in a segregated neighborhood. He attended Whistler High School. Entering professional baseball in 1956, Williams started his minor league career with the Ponca City Cubs of the Sooner State League. After returning to Ponca City in 1957 and hitting 17 home runs, Williams split 1958 between the Burlington Bees and Pueblo Bruins.
In his autobiography, Williams recalled that had never experienced overt racial discrimination until his 1959 promotion to the Class AA San Antonio Missions in San Antonio, Texas. He was so discouraged that he left the team and went home. Buck O’Neil, the Cubs scout who had originally discovered Williams, was dispatched to Whistler and he persuaded Williams to return to the team. During the 1959 season, he advanced to the Class AAA Fort Worth Cats and even played 18 games for the Cubs. In 1960, he hit 26 home runs for the Class AAA Houston Buffs and played in 12 major league games.
By 1961 he will become a regular in Chicago and win the Rookie of the year. Williams will go on to have a Hall of Fame Career playing mostly for the Chicago Cubs and finishing up with 2 years in Oakland.