Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »

WILLIAMS, JOE

Paul M. Lucko

WILLIAMS, JOE (ca. 1876–1946). Joe Williams, sometimes known as Smokey Joe or Cyclone Joe Williams, was a baseball player in the Negro leagues. Probably born in Seguin, Texas, around 1876, he was the son of an African-American father and a mother who was of mixed African-American and Native American ancestry. Although little is known about his early life and athletic career, Williams was pitching for the San Antonio Broncos by 1908, when racial segregation characterized professional baseball. Around 1910 manager Andrew (Rube) Foster, sometimes called the "father of black baseball," recruited Williams to play for the Chicago American Giants. Williams left Chicago in 1912 and joined the New York Lincoln Giants, where he remained through 1923. After leaving the Lincoln Giants, Williams played for a number of other teams, including the Pittsburgh Homestead Grays, the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, and the Brooklyn Royal Giants. Williams was as a tall, lanky man who earned a reputation as the fastest black pitcher of his era. A right-hander, he struck out more than twenty batters in a number of nine-inning games and struck out twenty-seven batters in one twelve-inning game. Williams sometimes required two catchers for a nine-inning game and intimidated batters. One former player remembered that Williams's fastball "looked like a pea" to batters. Williams played for teams that won consistently against the best black teams and against white semipro and major league teams in exhibition games. He retired from baseball in 1934. In 1952 a poll of former writers associated with the Negro leagues chose Williams as the greatest pitcher in the history of the leagues. After leaving baseball, Williams worked as a bartender in Harlem. He died in 1946. In 2001 the city of Seguin named the baseball field at Fairgrounds Park in his honor.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982). Robert Peterson, Only the Ball Was White (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970; rpt., New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984). Donn Rogosin, Invisible Men: Life in Baseball's Negro Leagues (New York: Atheneum, 1983).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Paul M. Lucko, "WILLIAMS, JOE," accessed September 15, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwiuj.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 25, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...