Walt Williams

Positions:
Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 66 Weight: 165
Born: Sunday, December 19, 1943 in Brownwood, TX USA
Died: 1 23 2016 in Abilene, TX USA
Debut: 4/21/1964
Last Game: 9/22/1975
Full Name: Walter Allen Williams

 

Walter Allen “No-Neck” Williams

Born and raised in Brownswood, Texas, Walt would develop oddly after receiving a typhus injection in his neck as an infant after is hometown would suffer a flood, the government insisting that everyone that was affected by this disaster be inoculated to prevent them from contracting any diseases from the standing water. After the injection, his neck would begin to stiffen and shrink.

In school, Walt loved sports and played baseball, football and basketball, not letting his minor disability stand in his way. In 1963, Walt would sign as an amateur with the Houston Colt .45s, making his debut on April 21, 1964. He would go 0 for 9 in his first 10 games and the story goes that No-Neck, a nickname given to him by his Colt teammates that he was never be happy or comfortable with, but would take in stride and just smile, would be traded away for “A proverbial bag of balls and a couple spring training fast food coupons” when he was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Walt would be sent to the minors and not emerge in the majors again until he appeared in 1967 with the White Sox, where he would become a regular in the line-up for six seasons. His best season came in 1969 when he hit .304 in 135 games for the south siders. St. Louis received Johnny Romano in return.

While the Sox were in a tight four way race for the American League pennant in 1967, Walter would show his determination and hustle in a game on June 14th against the Red Sox, he would field a single while stationed in right field, he would come up firing the ball in toward home, but Sox first baseman, Tommy McCraw would cut off the throw, trapping the runner at first in a run-down. Sox shortstop Ron Hansen would throw the ball back toward first base, the ball going wide and rolled toward the Red Sox dugout at Fenway Park, Walter would appear, seemingly out of nowhere, diving and snagging the ball before it could roll in to the home team dugout, popped up like a Jack-in-the-Box and threw a strike to second nailing the runner who thought he was in the clear. The Pale Hose would win that day 8-7 by the way.

After the 1969 season, No-Neck would become entangled in a heated negotiation with Sox General Manager Ed Short. Short would tell Williams that if he didn’t sign for what the Sox were putting on the table, he would see his playing time reduced drastically. He signed and his playing time shrunk anyway, to 110 games but it was enough to affect Walter, hitting .251 in 1970.

Ed Short would be terminated after the season and it was as if Walt was resurrected, when he hit .294 in 1971 and had a career high .394 on base percentage.

When Dick Allen came to town in 1972, Carlos May, who had been playing first base would be re-assigned as an outfielder, he along with Rick Reichardt, Jay Johnstone, Jim Lyttle and Pat Kelly, all outfielders would leave Williams without a country, appearing in just 77 games, hitting at a low of .249.

It would be the end of the fan favorites stay in Chicago, a guy who always took the time to visit with fans, especially the kids, would be shipped off to Cleveland on October 19, 1972 for infielder Eddie Leon. Tragically, while still dealing with the disappointment of having to depart Chicago, just three months later in January his two year old toddler would die of spinal meningitis while Walt was out of the country playing winter ball in Venezuela.

For the Indians, Walt would hit .284 in 1973 with career highs in home runs (8) and runs batted in (38). That August he would end his former White Sox teammate, Stan Bahnsen’s shot at a no-hitter when he singled with two outs in the ninth inning of the game.

Walt would be a utility player when he was traded to the New York Yankees in the spring of 1974 but hit a very poor .113 in his small window of opportunity of just 43 games. Williams would be released by the Yankees in the winter of 1976 and would venture over to Japan, playing two seasons for the Nippon-Ham Fighters and then two more years down in the Mexican League before retiring from pro-ball at the age of 35. No-Neck would resurface in 1989 when he would join the St. Lucie, Florida Legends of the Senior Professional Baseball Association.

Overall, Walt would commit just 19 errors in 573 games for an excellent .981 fielding percentage and in 1971 while with the Sox in 114 games, Walt would not have even one miscue all season. Five times over his career he would have four hit games. Walt would be the Sports Director for the Brownswood Community Center in his Texas hometown before becoming the first base coach for the White Sox for one season in 1988. Walt would go on to manage in the minors in 1992 in the South Atlantic (Sally) League And then for the Charleston River Dogs in 1993-94.

Just to mention, his nephew Mason Williams would spend time in the majors with the Yankees, Reds and in 2019, sign a minor league pact with the Baltimore Orioles.

On January 23, 2016, Walter would suffer a fatal heart attack in Abilene, Texas at the age of 72.