100 Greatest Phillies: 15 – Cy Williams – Phillies Nation
100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 15 – Cy Williams

Cy Williams

Career w/Phillies: .305 AVG / 217 HR / 795 RBI / 77 SB

Only three players born before 1900 ever hit 200 home runs: Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby and Cy Williams. A massive power hitting center fielder, Williams was a four-time National League home run champion. His 41-homer season of 1923 was one of the top longball seasons in the National League for a long time. He backed that total up with a 24-homer season in ’24 and an 18-homer season in ’26, before swatting 30 more in 1927, again leading the league. How did he do it? The left-handed slugger pulled the ball at will, and with Baker Bowl’s short distance to right field, Williams was made to hit in Philadelphia. And because of his pull style, managers developed the “Williams shift,” sending fielders to the right side of the diamond to defeat Williams. That shift is employed today, especially against Phillies current slugger Ryan Howard. Williams ranks sixth on the club’s all time home run list, along with a 10th-place showing on the RBI list and an eighth-place rank on the franchise hit list. The prodigious hitter is also 11th all time in batting average, coming in at just under .306. He finished his Phillie career in 1930 after slowing down his offensive output. He became an architect before passing in 1974.

Comment: A forgotten legend, Cy Williams was a superb home run hitter who could drive the ball enough to support a fine batting average. Credit the Baker Bowl and the live-ball era for some of his success, but his place in Phillie historic leader boards are evidence he deserves a top 20 ranking.



  1. Jeltzismyhombre

    March 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Fantastic selection. On of the best Phillies not in the Hall-of-Fame. I’m really curious who’s left here. Will all three of the 1890s Outfield be in Top 10?

  2. Jim

    March 12, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    What a player.

    You mentioned it in the article, that it was he, NOT ted williams for whom the famous “Williams Shift” is named after.

    They used to put ALL the fielders on the right side of the field. One time he did a check swing and hit a slow roller down the line and ran for an inside-the-park home run.

  3. Chutley

    March 12, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    wasn’t the Baker Wall built because of him?

  4. Joel

    March 12, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Great Pick! One of my favorite Phillies of all time!

  5. Griffin

    March 12, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    crap, I had him 10th.

  6. ashmidt

    March 12, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    cy should be in the hall of fame, phils got him strait up for dode paskert, i think we got the best of that deal, what i really love about cy though is that he is notre dame fighting irish. would loved to have seen a game at baker bowl, when i ride down broad st at lehigh i always check it out, thinking what it was like,the phils were the ugly sister to the As at 21st. and lehigh. they had a big billboard in rightcenter i think for lifebouy soap, and it said all the phillies use lifebouy, and someone painted under it and they still stink.

  7. James Kay

    March 12, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    The Phillies had below .500 records for all of the 13 seasons Williams played for them with 8 last place finishes. In 1928 the team posted a woeful 43-109 (.283) record, the worst during Cy’s tenure. The average crowd that year at the decaying Baker Bowl was about 2400. Makes you wonder how a great player like him stayed motivated. But he looks like a tough guy so I won’t challenge his position on the list.

    The legendary Casy Stengel was a solid performing regular Phillies outfielder (9 HR 123 OPS+) and a teammate of Willliams during the 1920 campaign 62-91 (.405). He so delighted to be traded from the Phillies to the New York Giants in 1921 that he celebrated by running shirtless into the rain at the Baker Bowl and sliding headfirst into each muddy base. He also later stated that trade was one of the happiest moments in his playing career. Talk about team mismanagement.

    Baker Bowl’s 60′ right field wall (40 ft. tin over brick, topped by 20 ft. screen) was not built for Cy. It was constructed in 1915, 3 years before he began his Phillies career. I wish I could have attended at least one game in that park.

  8. ashmidt

    March 12, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    well said james.

  9. Jason B.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I had a baseball video game that featured the baker bowl as a throw back ballpark that you could choose to play in. It was awesome, when a lefty hit a pop fly it would land in the street behind the wall every time. I know no one cares about that, but man, that must’ve been a great place to watch a ball game. Talk about a band box.

  10. Memphis

    March 12, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Still surprised guys like Abreu and Allen are still to come… and in the Top 15… I’m guessing at least one of Schilling, Magee, Bunning, Abreu, and Allen make the Top 10. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised if it’s Bunning, but Schilling actually has comparable if not better stats as a Phillie. Can’t believe Abreu is even in the conversation.

  11. Jeff

    March 12, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Memphis , I have to disagree, Abreu will probably be soon, but he has had phenominal seasons with the Phils and could be top ten. more like 10 or 11

  12. Memphis

    March 12, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    I respect Abreu’s stats, and all these guys at this point had big seasons, but Ennis has better career totals as a Phillie. As good as Bobby was, I never got the sense I was watching a Top 20 Phillie of all time. Solid player, certainly above average / almost great player, topped 30 HRs twice, topped 100 RBI 4 times, very consistent hitter (7 seasons of 164 hits or better and OBP better than .400), topped .300 BA six times. But I never delayed a beer run or bathroom break because Bobby was due to hit.

  13. MikeMc26

    March 13, 2009 at 9:45 am

    He kind of looks like the late, great Paul Newman. Defintiely a forgotten Phillie. That’s why this list is really cool, being a younger fan (mid-20’s) I’ve learned a lot about early 20th century Phillies history, which I think is awesome. Thanks Tim, this whole list was great.

  14. Dave H

    March 13, 2009 at 11:56 am

    A great Phillie. I have been waiting for him to surface. I put him at number 10 but as soon as I submitted I knew I over thought my list. Your list has been great Tim even though I have disagreed with some (mainly Bowa) it has been very informing. Very interested in the top 10.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Phillies Nation has been bringing Phillies fans together since 2004 with non-stop news, analysis, trade rumors, trips, t-shirts, and other fun stuff!

Browse the Archives

Browse by Category

Copyright Phillies Nation, LLC 2004-2016
Not Affiliated with Major League Baseball or the Philadelphia Phillies

To Top