Ricky Williams to the Hall of Fame


When the Philadelphia Phillies selected outfielder Ricky Williams with their 8th round pick in the 1995 MLB Draft, they could never suspect that he was headed to the Hall of Fame.

But when last week’s announcement came down, it happened. Williams was indeed elected to the Hall of Fame. No, not the Baseball Hall of Fame, but the College Football Hall of Fame.

Many will remember that Ricky Williams was one of the greatest collegiate running backs of all-time at the University of Texas in the late-1990’s. He was a consensus All-American in both 1997 and 1998, and won the 1998 Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football.

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In the 1999 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles had the 2nd overall selection. New head coach Andy Reid was under pressure from the fan base to select Williams, and when Cleveland picked quarterback Tim Couch at 1st overall, the opportunity was there.

Instead, Reid selected quarterback Donovan McNabb out of Syracuse, and the fans booed the pick lustily. Williams slid to the New Orleans Saints at the 5th overall pick.

Both McNabb and Williams would go on to long, successful NFL careers. But football was not the only sport at which Ricky Williams excelled. In fact, the Phillies had already selected him with their 8th Round pick back in the 1995 MLB Draft out of high school.

Fastest guy I’ve ever laid eyes on” ~ Jimmy Rollins, 1997 teammate

While attending college and playing football in the fall, Williams spent his summers making his way through three levels of the Phillies farm system.

He began in 1995 at Rookie level Martinsville, where at age 18 he hit for just a .239 average. But he did display his signature speed, swiping 13 bags in just 121 plate appearances.

Williams won the 1998 Heisman Trophy at Texas

In 1996, Williams moved on to Piedmont, where he would spend two summers. In 437 plate appearances over the 96-97 seasons, Williams stole 27 bases and displayed electrifying speed.

A teammate in 1997 at Piedmont, future Phillies iconic shortstop Jimmy Rollins was quoted as saying that Williams was the “Fastest guy I’ve ever laid eyes on…fastest guy out of the chute. My God, really? People are really that fast?

In the summer of 1998, Williams gave baseball one final go-around. In just 55 plate appearances with Low-A Batavia, the speedy outfielder hit a career-best .283 and stole 6 bases.

In all, Williams would register 46 stolen bases in 63 attempts over 613 plate appearances across 4 minor league seasons in the Phillies organization, playing almost exclusively in left field. He also had 4 homers, 40 rbi, and 68 runs scored.

Needless to say, Ricky Williams made much more of an impact on the college and professional football worlds than he did in baseball. But for a handful of seasons, the Phillies got to see for themselves, up close and personal, just how awesome an athlete he was.