Charlie Williams: Queens Born Pitcher Who Was Traded to Get Willie Mays (1971 - 1972)

Charles Prosek Williams
was born October 11, 1947, in Flushing Queens. 
He is one of the few players born in Flushing & having played with the Mets. Long before there was a Shea Stadium, little Charlie Williams was throwing a baseball around the streets of Flushing, Queens.

Williams starred in both baseball & football at Great Neck High school choosing to go with a baseball scholarship. 

Trivia: Charlie went off to Parsons College in Iowa. The college was actually named after the same Mr. Parsons that Parsons Blvd. in Flushing is named after.

While pitching at Parsons, he was signed by the New York Mets in the seventh round of the 1968 draft.

In 1961 he went 5-1 at A-ball, Mankato. In 1969 while the Mets were winning the Championship, Williams went from A-ball Visalia to AA Memphis where he was 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA.

In 1970 he was one of the top pitchers of the AA Memphis team that went to the Texas League Championship. Williams was 12-5 with 125 strike outs in 158 innings with a 3.25 ERA. 

Another top pitcher on that team was Don Rose, who in 1972 would get traded to the California Angels along with Leory Stanton in the Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi deal.

Mets Career: In 1971 Williams made a solid Mets out of Spring Training. On April 23rd, Williams debuted in a 7-6 loss at Wrigley Field allowing four runs in 2.2 innings in relief. On May 5th, he gave up two runs to the Cubs at Shea & was tagged with his first loss.

On June 2nd, he got his first career win, pitching five scoreless innings in a relief effort beating Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. On June 16th Williams made a start against Bill Singer & the Dodgers at Shea Stadium. He pitched six innings, allowing a run on five hits earning the victory.

On June 22nd, he made another start pitching into the 9th inning against the Pirates, giving up two runs on six hits with two strike outs, earning his third victory.

On June 27th in Montreal, the Expos tagged him for six runs in the 1st inning & he was relieved without even getting a batter out. On July 7th, the Expos got him again at Shea, scoring six runs (five runs) in a 12-7 loss. After three relief appearances he made another unsuccessful start, this time the Cubs got him for a season high seven runs at Wrigley Field. Billy Williams & Jim Hickman both connected for HRs off Williams that day as well.

On August 3rd, Williams pitched a complete game victory in the second game of a double header at Shea against the Reds. In that game he struck out a season high eight batters but also gave up three earned runs. In his next start he gave up five runs to fall to 4-6 with a 5.68 ERA. He earned one more win in relief, coming in the night cap of a September doubleheader, at Pittsburgh. 

Williams finished the year with a 5-6 record, 53 strike outs 41 walks 7 HRs & a 4.78 ERA in 90.1 innings in 31 appearances (nine starts). 

Williams began the season at AAA Tidewater, then on May 11th, Williams became the answer to a great baseball trivia question. "Who did the Mets trade to get Willie Mays?"

Charlie Williams along with $50,000 in cash went to the Giants in exchange for the future Hall of Famer Willie Mays.

It certainly wasn't a trade for one great player for another. The Mets owner Joan Payson wanted Mays to end his playing career back in New York City. She had been a big fan of Mays since his days with the Giants. Mrs. Payson was also on the NY Giants board of Directors. After he ended his playing career, she wanted to keep him on as a coach. 

Meanwhile in San Francisco, the Giants were struggling financially. The team wasn't winning, they weren't drawing fans & they were second fiddle in the Bay Area to the Oakland A's who were on the verge of winning three straight World Series.

The Giants owner Horace Stoneham couldn’t give Mays the kind of money he deserved & was expected to get at that point in his career, but the Mets could. So the deal was completed to the delight of Mrs. Payson & New York fans. Mays would get to the World Seies the next year with the Mets ending his career on top.

Post Mets Career: Charlie Williams would pitch in San Francisco through the 1978 season. In his seven years he was 18-16 with one save. He posted a 3.82 ERA in 237 appearances in 24 starts.

From 1972 to 1974 he also pitched in the minor leagues at AAA Phoenix. In 1975 he made a career high 55 appearances, going 5-3 with three saves for the Giants while posting a 3.49 ERA. In 1976 he was 2-0 with a 2.96 in 48 appearances. In 1977 he matched his career high 55 appearances, going 6-5 with a 4.00 ERA.

Career Stats: In his eight-year career Williams was 23-22 with a 3.97 ERA. He struck out 257 batters with 275 walks in 573 innings pitched in 268 games (33 starts). At the plate he batted .135 with two RBIs.

Trivia: Throughout his life Williams always joked that the Giants traded Willie Mays for him, instead of vice versa. 

Retirement: After his playing days, Williams briefly worked as a New Yok City taxi driver. He retired from that & settled in Florida. 

Passing: In December 2014, Williams needed heart surgery. His brother-in-law stated, even then as he was recovering in hospital, Charlie would still receive baseball memorabilia to get signed by fans. 

In January 2015 he passed away in Daytona Beach at age 67. He was survived by his three children.


A Charlie Williams Christmas said…
Actually,his 1971 CG win vs. Cincy was on Aug. 3. I should know : it was my first time at Shea. Nolan Ryan pitched Game 1 of this twi-niter,and wasn't bad despite losing. After '71,both would be traded for washed-up veterans. Before the AL NY team made the young-for-old practice famous, it was the brainstorm of Grant and Scheffing. With Charlie in relief, Ryan,Jim Bibby and even lefty Brent Strom starting, (I don't have enuff room for the eceteras) the late 1970's implosion would've been averted. Instead,we got the best ”coach” money could buy. That's right : What would've ever happened to Bruce Boisclair,Bob Gallagher.& Gil Flores minus the tutelage of Coach Mays?

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