Monday, June 24, 2024

1962 Topps #288 Billy Williams

Today's All-Star Rookie Cup posting brings us to Hall of Famer Billy Williams who is the oldest living Hall of Famer to have also won a Rookie Cup. 

The recent passing of Willie Mays has pushed the 86 year old Williams into 8th place among the eldest surviving Hall of Famers - and 6th among players. 

1962 Topps #288 Billy Williams (image lifted from tcdb)

1962 Topps is one of my favorite designs - the novelty of the wood grain only used here and in 1987 keeps the idea fresh. I also like how the rolled up photo illusion slides our eyes into the full size Rookie Cup trophy.

Williams is captured here in follow through of his "Sweet Swinging" form - the rollup flows with the swing here as well. All this adds up to a really great early card of a Future Hall of Famer. 

Rookie of the Year

Billy Williams earned NL Rookie of the Year honors by leading the 1961 freshman class with 25 Home Run 86 RBI and 256 Total Bases.  However...

Even in the pre-analytics days Voters recognized the importance of the catching position with just under of a third of the ballots favoring future HOF Joe Torre. Saving deeper analysis for a future aWARds column, but for today's discussion it's enough to say that Billy Williams led NL rookies in 2 of the 3 Triple Crown categories and it is really hard to argue against those criteria in the Rookie of the Year voting. 

1962 Topps #288 Billy Williams (flip)
Little hard to make out but here we see the rest of Billy Williams numbers for his ROY campaign. The 146 games is noteworthy as that his a high number for a rookie by today's standards and the phrase "played everyday" definitely applied to Williams. For a decade from 1962-1971 averaged 161 games and was just below superlative threshold numbers (29 HR /98 RBI/.298 AVG)
I also want to point out in the demographics section that specifies Williams' Home as "Whislter, Ala." Which is of course the tail end of his nickname "Sweet Swingin' Billy from Whistler"

Always a fan of cards with comics. The presentation on 1962T is a bit different - it is more of an illustration than a comic. A lot of the rookie cup cards in the early era of the subset have comics focused on the cup. This one is ok - cup is a bit distant and I cannot tell which character is giving or receiving the award. 

Note that the card makes no mention of Williams Rookie of the Year award.
More Rookie Iconogaphy
1962 Topps is not the only time that a Billy Williams card features rookie related iconography 
1961 Topps #141 Billy Williams
In just 1961 and 1962 Topps added a Star Icon to a few of the rookies in the set. Other notables from 1961 were Carl Yastrzemski and Phillies Catcher Clarence Coleman. Hall of Famer Juan Marichal's rookie card is in 1961T but did not get a Rookie Star Icon.

Sources and Links

1962 Topps All-Star Rookie Cup Subset Index

Billy Williams HOF Index


NBC Bay Area


John Bateman said...

Interesting Fact about Williams and the rookie cup.

Now about WAR If I cant calculate it - with pen and paper - it worthless

For Joe Torre to have a 3.4 WAR and Williams 1.4 WAR does not make any sense

deal said...

Hmmm, surprised your not supporting your catching brethren.

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