Earl Williams, the 1971 National League Rookie of the Year with the Atlanta Braves, died Monday night. The Newark native and longtime Montclair resident was 64.
He died at his home in Somerset surrounded by his wife of 33 years, Linda, and stepdaughter, Raquel West. He is also survived by a granddaughter, Ruquayyah Williams.
He was diagnosed with acute leukemia last July.
Williams played on four teams, including two stints with the Braves, in his eight years in the major leagues. He made his debut as a September call-up for the Braves as a 21-year-old in 1970.
The next season he slugged 33 home runs and compiled 87 RBI on his way to being named the senior circuit’s top rookie.
He did so playing catcher for the first time in his life, a position the Braves asked him to play because they were desperate to include his bat in the lineup when there was a logjam at first and third base—his usual positions.
“He had to learn from scratch,” Williams’ 83-year-old mother, Dolores Reilly, recalled in a phone interview. “He used to tell me that if he could’ve he would’ve used two gloves to catch Phil Niekro’s knuckleball.”
Posted: January 31, 2013 at 12:38 PM | 21 comment(s)
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