He was the "Big Hurt" before the "Big Hurt." And Hank Aaron called him the toughest National League right-hander he ever faced.
On Saturday morning, former Major League pitcher and pitching coach Stan Williams passed away at the age of 84 in his Laughlin, Nev., home. Williams had been hospitalized on Feb. 11 and in hospice care due to the effects of cardio-pulmonary illness.
Williams, who earned the "Big Hurt" moniker by intimidating batters with inside fastballs that were known to hit the occasional hitter, was a hard-throwing right-hander who pitched in the Majors from 1958-72. Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas would later be given the nickname, although the pain he inflicted was on the baseball.
Williams made his MLB debut in the Dodgers' inaugural season in Los Angeles following their move from Brooklyn, and he soon became a staple in a rotation that also featured Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres.
Still primarily a reliever in 1959, Williams helped the Dodgers win their first World Series in Los Angeles by defeating the White Sox in six games. His best season as a Dodger came in '60, when he posted a 3.00 ERA over 207 1/3 innings and was named an NL All-Star.
The Dodgers traded Williams to the Yankees for Bill "Moose" Skowron following the '62 campaign. Williams spent two seasons with New York before pitching for the Indians from 1965-69. Cleveland traded him to the Twins prior to the '70 season, and Williams proceeded to post a 1.99 ERA over 68 relief appearances. His stay with Minnesota was short-lived, however, as the Twins traded him during the '71 season to the Cardinals. He pitched in three games for the Red Sox in '72, his final season as a player.
Williams finished his playing career with a record of 109-94 and a 3.48 ERA. He would go on to become a pitching coach, scout and adviser to several clubs, and was the Reds' pitching coach when Cincinnati won the 1990 World Series over the heavily favored Athletics. He was also a pitching coach for the Red Sox and Yankees.
Williams is survived by his daughter Shawn, son Stan Jr., brother Jim, three grandchildren and several great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.