Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Earl Williams, 1975 Topps #97

Earlier this week, former Orioles catcher/first baseman Earl Williams died after a months-long battle with leukemia. He was 64 years old. Though he started his career with a bang in Atlanta, winning the National League's 1971 Rookie of the Year honors on the strength of 33 home runs and a .491 slugging percentage, those age-22 numbers represented the peak of Williams' performance. He wore out his welcome with the Braves one year later, which should have been a red flag to the O's. But someone in management (Earl Weaver spent the rest of his own life denying that it was him) was sufficiently enamored with the mercurial slugger's talents to surrender a four-player package headlined by All-Star second baseman Davey Johnson. Earl Williams' SABR biography details his clashes with Baltimore teammates, coaches, and even fans. I don't want to pile on when speaking critically of the recently-deceased, though his record and his departure from the big leagues at age 29 tell the story. I will say that it's a shame that he suffered with such a significant illness at the end of his life. Perhaps now he's found a peace that often seemed elusive in his youth.

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