Today’s Historical Hitter is the only person to win the outright Home Run title from 1918 to 1931 not named Babe Ruth. One of baseball’s forgotten power hitting heroes from one of the traditionally worst teams in the League, the old St. Louis Browns. A little background; he was baseballs’ first 30-30 player and the first American League player to hit 3 home runs in a game. His 14 year MLB career stared in 1915 and concluded in 1929 during which he hit 196 HR, had 916 RBI, owned a .319 BA and achieved an OPS+ of 138.
His name: Ken Williams
On this day August 7, he was the first American league player to hit two home runs in an inning that powered the Browns to a 16 to 1 victory of the hapless Senators. He hit sixth in the lineup that day and went 3 for 5 with 5 RBI’s. 1922 was his best season in which he lead the league in Home Runs with 39, RBIs-155, and 367 TB, yet he did not receive any league MVP votes. His more famous teammate George Sisler was the AL MVP that year.
The major reason for Williams winning the Home Run title that year was that “The Babe” was suspended until May 20th for playing unauthorized after season barnstorming games, The Babe finished with 35 that year.
William’s batting prowess was due to his tree trunk like 48-ounce bat, “… I always favor a heavy one because when you connect with the ball with every ounce of strength in your frame, the weight of the bat is going to help the ball to travel. That’s my theory anyway and it seems to work.”
Like many baseball heroes he was immortalized in verse by L.C. Davis of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for all who don’t remember it here it is:
Whose name is on every tongue? Ken Williams
Whose praises are now daily sung? Ken Williams
Who is the rooter’s joy and pride?
Who gives the pesky pill a ride?
And separates it from its hide? Ken Williams
Who is our most admired youth? Ken Williams
Who makes the fan forget Babe Ruth? Ken Williams
Who is the guy so calm and cool?
Who swings his trusty batting tool?
And knocks the pellet for a gool? Ken Williams 1
1 Roger A. Godin, The 1922 St. Louis Browns: Best of the American League’s Worst (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1991), 50.
Special thanks to SABR Bio Project story by Joseph Wancho.