Every other Tuesday at 9 AM a new podcast will be released.
July 23, 2019 … Babe Ruth was on a roll. He had just won four-straight American League home run titles. However, his streak was stopped in 1922 by Ken Williams … yes, Ken Williams. One of the most dangerous sluggers of the 1920s, Williams was a star for the St. Louis Browns. One of the most streakiest hitters the game has ever known, Williams was a career .319 hitter, but like so many of the stars we have spoken about on Sports’ Forgotten Heroes, played in relative obscurity. Toiling for a team that routinely finished towards the bottom of the standings, very few baseball fans know much about Ken Williams. Dave Heller, who has written a few books about baseball, was quite intrigued by the story of Williams, so after much research he authored the book, “Ken Williams, A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow,” which is a wonderful that delves into the career of Williams, the Browns and a whole lot more. After a “cup of coffee” with the Reds, Williams found himself back in the minors where he worked diligently on his outfield defense and finally made it back to bigs with the Browns in 1918. But the war took precedence and Williams didn’t play a full season with St. Louis until 1920 and enjoyed his first solid season in 1921. In 1922, Williams terrorized pitchers hitting .332 with a league-leading 39 home runs and a league-leading 155 RBI. That season interrupted Ruth’s ownership of the home run title, and while Williams would never top the “Sultan of Swat” again, he did crank out 196 home runs for his career to go along with .319 batting average. But playing for teams like the Browns, and later the Red Sox, Williams never enjoyed the spotlight of playing for one of baseball’s better teams. Nonetheless, he was one of the game’s best and Dave Heller joins SFH for a wonderful look back on the overlooked and forgotten career of Ken Williams.
August 6, 2019 … The 2019 U.S. Amateur was won by Andy Ogletree. Certainly not a name that’s on the tip of your tongue. But there are many past champions of the U.S. Amateur who are very much a part of our daily conversations, especially golf fans. Guys like the “King” – Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. To make it to the finals of the U.S. Amateur is a huge accomplishment. Not only do you need to make it through your local qualifier, then you have to make it through stroke-play. Today, 312 golfers qualify for the stroke-play portion of the tournament. From there, the top 64 players advance to match play. If, by the way, there’s a tie for 64th, they’re settled in a sudden-death playoff. Those final 64 players are matched up in a bracket very much like college basketball. No. 1 plays No. 64, No. 2 plays No. 63, No. 3 plays No. 62 and so on. It’s a grueling tournament as the match-play portion of the U.S. Amateur requires the winner of each match to play 36-holes a day until just two golfers are left standing; and then they face-off in 36-hole match-play final on Sunday. Today, the champion is awarded the Havemeyer Trophy. Ray Billows was one of the top golfers of his era at a time when amateur golf was bigger than professional golf. Billows thrived in the U.S. Amateur winning 74% of all the matches he played. In fact, he advanced to the final match three times, but he was never able to win. Each time Billows played in the finals, he lost. Not only did he lose, but Ray Billows is the only golfer in history to lose the U.S. Amateur three times, certainly one of the most disappointing facts about his career. Certainly, the fact that the U.S. Amateur wasn’t played for four years during the prime of his career because of World War II contributed to his disappointment. But to make it to the finals three times is a huge accomplishment. The fact that Billows played on two Walker Cup teams, won the New York State Amateur seven times and numerous other tournaments over the course of his career prove just how good Ray Billows was. The USGA recognized Ray’s brilliance on the course by honoring him with an exhibit at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, NJ. Tom Buggy, who had the pleasure of playing golf with Ray, wrote a book about Billows (long after he had passed) called, “Ray Billows, The Cinderella Kid,” and he’s on Sports’ Forgotten Heroes to talk about Ray’s career, the ups and downs he experienced and why he decided to play amateur golf instead of professional golf.
August 20, 2019 … Burleigh Grimes was one of baseball’s best pitchers during his 19-year career that started in 1916 and ended in 1934. He was also the last pitcher in the game allowed to throw the spitball legally. Inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1964, Grimes was also one of the game’s most unique characters and Joe Niese who wrote “Burleigh Grimes, Baseball’s Last Legal Spitballer,” returns to SFH for a wonderful discussion about this terrific pitcher.