Saturday, January 24, 2009

#15 - Walt Williams

Walt Williams

Walt Williams is an athlete that needs a nickname. The NBA player was known as The Wizard. Pro Bowling's all-time leading money winner uses his middle name and goes by Walter Ray. The MLB outfielder was dubbed “No-Neck” by former Houston Colt .45 (no, I’m not making any comments about that) teammate John Bateman. I think he got the worse end of the deal, but look at him. He wasn’t tall (5’6”), but went 185 and was very powerfully built. He’s also got great mutton chops, but is not John Olerud’s uncle, despite seeming to wear a batting helmet (no flaps in the early 70’s) while fielding. Bruce Markusen writes a great blog and I stole liberally from his article about Walt.

I got this card autographed through the mail a few years ago. I love the way he uses one W for his first and last names. He just oozes coolness in a way few people do. Can't you see Walt dressing -- no, he wouldn't just dress -- he'd be stylin' and profilin' after the game walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago after games.

Walt did break up White Sox teammate Stan Bahnsen’s bid for a no-hitter when he was with the Indians in 1973 with a 2 out single in the 9th. In 1972, he platooned in RF with Pat Kelly for an overachieving White Sox team that finished 2nd. At the end of the year he was traded to the Indians and then went on to the Yankees. Supposedly, New York was quite to Walt’s liking because he could go out after games with teammates and put away a lot of food. That reminds me of something a guy I was on a business trip said to me a couple of years ago while we were eating in O’Hare on the way home: “You don't drink, but you can sure eat a lot of food.” Everybody’s got to have a talent. Make sure yours is socially acceptable. One thing I did find out about No Neck in researching him is that he is almost universally beloved, especially by White Sox fans.

1972 Feature

My modern translation of General William Tecumseh Sherman's famous quote would be "War sucks." I had a grandfather that used to quote President Franklin Roosevelt's statement, "War. I hate war." I remember a Star Trek episode where a couple of "advanced" civilizations tried to sanitize war and make it less gruesome, so they continued at war for several centuries. Don't get the idea that I'm anti-war. I'm not. When we have a legitimate foreign policy objective to achieve and military force is necessary, I'm in favor of that and in favor of giving our military what they need to win in terms of supplies and political guts.

Another quote I hear about war is to tell someone, "The War's Over" to get them to quit being stubborn. However, in the 21st century, I think a lot of us forget the genesis of that statement. Part of it comes from Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi. Sgt. Yokoi was forced into Japan's Imperial Army in 1941, taken from his life as a 26 year old tailor. I suppose when you sneak attack a superpower, you'd better get a bunch of soldiers ready. In 1943 he was stationed on Guam. In June 1944, United States forces landed to retake the island and Yokoi was separated from his platoon. He went to the jungle to hide out. He stayed in the jungle until this date in 1972, when he was subdued by a couple of local fishermen. He was there for almost 30 years.

I can't say he continued fighting the war. The accounts I have read say he'd seen flyers announcing the war was over and he was hiding mainly to avoid harsh treatment he'd heard that Japanese soldiers were receiving. He returned to Japan, became a celebrity of sorts and received back pay of about $300. What, the Japanese paid their soldiers about $10/year? Now that his war was over he settled down, married and died in 1997 at a ripe old age of 82.

However, World War II was still not over. There were two more Japanese soldiers discovered in 1974. Then, the war was over.


  1. Les Lancaster uses one L for his names, as well.

  2. That's pretty cool to see an old Walt Williams card. I know him personally and just wrote a blog about him at check it out! Thanks for the blog I really enjoyed it.