April 30, 1970 was a great day for a player etched in Chicago Cubs history.
On that Thursday, outfielder Billy Williams became the first National League player in history to play 1,000 consecutive ballgames. Williams had a rough day that day at the plate going 0-4 in a 9-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves, but the streak was what mattered.
Williams, the 1961 NL Rookie of the Year, and 6-time All-Star, batted .322 with 42 home runs and 129 runs batted in for the 1970 season, arguably his most productive in the majors.
His outstanding consecutive games streak ended at 1,117 games, and was eventually passed by San Diego Padres star Steve Garvey whose streak ended at 1,207 games. Williams is still sixth on the all-time list and developed a reputation as a great teammate and hard-worker, that, along with his outstanding lifetime production, earned him a place in the Hall of Fame.
“Sweet Billy” batted .290 over his 17 year career, hit a total of 426 home runs and drove in 1,475 runs– all numbers among the all-time best in Cubs history. Only Williams No. 26, Ryne Sandberg’s No. 23, Fergie Jenkins’ No. 31, Greg Maddux’s No. 31, Ernie Banks’ No. 14 and Ron Santo’s No. 10 have been retired by the Cubs.
Needless to say, Mr. Williams is in very good company.
During the 2010 season, Billy was immortalized with a bronze statue outside of Wrigley Field and is still a fixture at Cubs games today.