Ken Williams

A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow

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SKU: 9781476665351 Categories: , ,

About the Book

Perhaps familiar today as an answer to sports trivia questions, Ken Williams (1890–1959) was once a celebrity who helped bring about a new kind of power baseball in the 1920s. One of the great sluggers of his era (and of all time), he beat Babe Ruth for the home run title in 1922, and became the first to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season that year. Later recognized for his accomplishments, he was considered for but not inducted into the Hall of Fame. This first-ever biography of Williams covers his life and career, from his small town upbringing, to his unlikely foray into pro baseball, to his retirement years, when he served as a police officer and ran a pool hall in his hometown.

About the Author(s)

Dave Heller has written and reported on sports for more than 20 years for a myriad of national newspapers, magazines and websites. He has published two previous books on sports history. He lives in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

Dave Heller
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 280
Bibliographic Info: 42 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6535-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2583-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

 1. Grants Pass and the ­Semi-Pro Life 3

 2. O Canada: The Path to Pro Ball 19

 3. Making a Name for Himself 33

 4. A Small Taste of Cincinnati 43

 5. Across the Ocean and Up the Ladder 55

 6. The Minors, a Major War and the Big Leagues (Again) 70

 7. Getting Established in St. Louis 85

 8. Changing Style and Becoming a Top Slugger 96

 9. “Who makes fans forget about Babe Ruth?” 109

10. Starting the 30–30 Club 126

11. Setting Career Highs Amid Team Strife 141

12. Powered Off and Back On 154

13. One Pitch Changes Everything 170

14. Battling for Playing Time 183

15. Goodbye St. Louis, Hello … Boston? 193

16. Winding Down a Career 200

17. Back to the Minors 213

18. The Hometown Boy Returns to Grants Pass—and St. Louis 222

19. Ken Williams’s Legacy 232

Appendix A: Career Statistics 241

Appendix B: Home Run Log 242

Appendix C: Articles Appearing Under Williams’s Byline 246

Chapter Notes 253

Bibliography 261

Index 263

Book Reviews & Awards

“Researched primarily in newspapers, online sources, and interviews with Williams’ two sons, Dave Heller produces a gripping and easy read.”—Terry Lindley, Union University; “[A] diligently researched account … Through interviews with Williams’ two sons, Ken Jr. and Jack, Heller is able to give the reader a look into the man, as well as the player.”—SABR Deadball Era Committee Newsletter.