Fortunately for outfielder Walt Williams (BR/TR), he was a ballplayer, and not a race horse. It would have been very hard for him to have won many photo finishes without a lot more visible evidence on him of that universal head-connecting body part we call the neck. As it was, the club that originally signed him to his ten season major league career, the Houston Cot .45s, didn’t stick their necks out for Walt Williams all that far as a baseball player either. After Williams went 0 for 9 in ten games for the 1964 Colt .45s (the name that preceded “Astros” for Houston’s new major league club from 1962-64), Houston dealt, sold, or traded away Walt Williams for the proverbial bag of balls and a couple of spring training fast food restaurant discount coupons.
William resurfaced in the big leagues as an outfielder for the 1967 Chicago White Sox, where he spent the next six seasons (1967-72) enjoying his two best seasons in the game. In 1969, Walt batted .304 in 135 games. Then, after a one-year slip back into mediocrity, Williams came back to hit .294 for the 1971 Pale Hose.
Walt Williams would also hit .289 in 104 games for the 1973 Cleveland Indians and then finish a two-year run with the New York Yankees by crunching out a .282 BA mark in 82 games for the 1975 Bronx Bombers. 1975 would stand as No-Neck’s last season in the big leagues. He left the game with a career batting average of .270 in 842 games, including 106 doubles, 11 triples, and 33 home runs.
After the big leagues, Williams played a couple of extra years in Japan for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1976-77 before hanging up his cleats for good. He left te game honorably with a strong reputation as a good defensive player too. Walt made only 19 errors in 565 games on defense, finishing his MLB stats on that side of the ball with a fielding percentage of .981.
Williams received his “No-Neck” nickname during his start with the Colt .45s due to his short framed muscular body. At 5’6″ and 190 pounds, Williams appeared to have no neck. His head seemed to be directly connected to a barrel-chest that was quickly propelled around the field on very short motorized legs. It was not a pretty picture, but the results were pretty good.
Williams also seemed to like his “No-Neck” moniker and he figuratively bathed in fan friendliness wherever he played. The Brownwood, Texas native was a natural moving work of positive action in behalf of major league baseball. If more players behaved toward fans as Walt Williams did, the big leagues could save a lot of the money they now spend on marketing, public relations, and lawyers. Walt Williams was a true ambassador of baseball. I just selfishly wish he cold have spent his career here in Houston.
It simply wasn’t meant to be.
Walt Williams had some pretty memorable games as a hitter over the years. In game for the White Sox on May 21, 1970, Walt slammed out five hits (a double and 4 singles) in a 22-13 Chicago slugfest win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. He also scored 5 runs and drove in 2 more in that one.
Walt also reached the 4-hits-per-game mark 5 times in major league career. No hitter is that lucky that often. No-Neck Williams could flat-out put the wood on that little white, round sucker.
Williams’s last hurrah in the sunlight of baseball glory came in 1989 when he played for the St. Lucie Legends of the ill-fated Senior Professional Baseball Association. Today he is a 66-year old retired baseball player who is best remembered for the body part he apparently forgot to bring to the game.
The man had no neck. Just a lot of talent for winning baseball.