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 25 years for a myriad of national newspapers, magazine and websites. He has published three previous books on sports history. He lives in Mequon, 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

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