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Catfish, Billy Williams Elected to Hall of Fame

January 15, 1987|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Billy Williams and Jim (Catfish) Hunter, models of consistency whose teams often went in opposite directions, were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame, it was announced Wednesday night.

Williams, on the ballot for the sixth time after missing by just four votes last year, was named on 354 of 413 votes for 85.7%, well above the required 75%.

Hunter, known for working out of tight jams on the mound, again cut it close. He got 315 votes, five over the minimum, and reached the Hall in his third try after missing by 30 votes last year.

Jim Bunning, the recently elected Congressman from Kentucky, did not fare as well in this voting. Bunning, who missed by 40 votes last year, came up 21 shy.

None of the other 25 players on the ballot were named on 50% of the votes by the Baseball Writers Assn. of America. Orlando Cepeda was fourth with 179, followed by Roger Maris with 176 and Tony Oliva with 160.

Hunter had a record of 224-166 with a 3.26 earned-run average in a 15-year career spent with the Kansas City and Oakland A's and the New York Yankees. He won 20 or more games from 1971 through 1975, won the American League Cy Young Award in 1974 and pitched a perfect game in 1968.

Williams batted .290 with 426 home runs and 1,475 RBIs in an 18-year career. He spent his first 16 seasons in the outfield for the Chicago Cubs, and played the last two with Oakland. He ranks 20th on the all-time home run list.

"I guess the smile on my face tells it all. 'Wait until next year' is now a phrase of the past," Williams said from a hotel near his home in Glen Ellyn, Ill.

"I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It hasn't sunk in yet," he said. "I can truly say it's one of the most exciting moments of my life."

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