Lefty Williams

A photo of Lefty Williams.

Claude Preston "Lefty" Williams (March 9, 1893 - November 4, 1959) was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball. He is probably best known for his involvement in the 1919 World Series fix, better known as the Black Sox scandal.

Williams was born in Aurora, Missouri to William and Mary Williams. He began his major league career on September 17, 1913 with the Detroit Tigers.

With the White Sox, he was caught up in the Black Sox scandal. After going 23-11 in the regular season, first baseman Chick Gandil offered him $10,000 to help throw the World Series. Williams at first said he wasn't interested, but changed his mind after Gandil told him that the fix was going to go forward with or without him.

Although Williams only received $5,000, half of what he was promised, that was still almost double his 1919 salary of $2,600.

In the series, Williams went 0-3, with an earned run average of 6.63. His three losses were a World Series record. It was tied in the 1981 Series when the New York Yankees George Frazier lost three games. Eight Men Out author Eliot Asinof wrote that Williams eventually turned against the fix as he prepared for his final Series start; Asinof later admitted that this particular anecdote was made-up.

Williams pitched for the White Sox in 1920, going 22-14, but was caught up in the indictments handed down that autumn. Though acquitted by a jury, Williams and the seven other "Black Sox" were made permanently ineligible from Major League Baseball by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Afterwards, Williams barnstormed and played in outlaw leagues for a few years, and he played briefly for the Fort Bayard Veterans team in New Mexico which was part of the Copper League or Cactus League. He supposedly took to drinking heavily. It was reported that the between-inning "nips" made him an intimidating pitcher to the batters.

Williams spent his later years in Laguna Beach, California operating a garden nursery business.

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