Memorial Day Post, 2012
On July 9, 1940 Dick Williams made the start for the Appleton Papermakers in a Wisconsin State League game against the Sheboygan Indians. He struck out ten, walked two, and scattered seven hits for a 5-3 complete game win at Spencer Street Stadium. Here is a link to a brief story about that game from the July 10, 1940 Milwaukee Sentinel.
Gary Bedingfield included information about Williams in a book that he wrote:
Described as having “good stuff, with an overhand curveball breaking down on the hitter,” Williams got off to a good start, but then struggled to win a game until June 18, when he defeated Green Bay, 2-0. Another run of bad luck saw him traded at the beginning of August to the Sheboygan Indians of the same league. The trade coincided with the extraction of an ulcerated tooth, and under the guidance of Joe “Unser Choe” Hauser,…he fared much better and ended the year with a 9-9 won-loss record and a 4.94 ERA.
Back with Sheboygan for 1941, Williams earned recognition as “the best left-hander in the league.” On June 3, he pitched a 1-0 three hitter against Wisconsin Rapids and followed that on June 27 by scattering eight hits in a 3-2 win against Janesville, striking out 16 batters to tie a Wisconsin State League record. He finished the regular season with a 14-11 record and a 3.89 ERA, and struck out 138 in 177 innings. The Indians finished fourth in the league to earn a place in the playoffs, and Williams earned his team with a sensational 1-0 five-hitter against the La Crosse Blackhawks. The Indians were then awarded the championship when Green Bay forfeited.”
The name of the book that Gary Bedingfeld wrote is Baseball’s Dead of World War II: A Roster of Professional Players Who Died in Service.
Williams entered the US Army in 1942 and served in the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division. He took part in the liberation of The Philippines. Dick Williams did not come home.
[Richard L. Williams] was killed in action during the battle for the Philippines on February 21, 1945.
Technician Fifth Grade Williams was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and is buried at the Manila American Cemetery at Fort Bonifacio in Manila, Philippines.
Memorial Day is more than baseball, a day off from work, and the unofficial start of summer. It is to honor the memory of Technician Fifth Grade Richard L. Williams of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Appleton Papermakers, and the Sheboygan Indians and all who gave the “last full measure of devotion”.