Walt Williams, a stocky outfielder and utilityman who played in 10 Major League seasons, including six with the White Sox, died Saturday near his hometown of Brownwood, Tex. He was 72.
His wife, Ester, told The New York Times that her husband died of a heart attack in Abilene.
Williams, popularly known as "No Neck" -- a nickname he may or may not have liked, depending on the account -- also played for the Houston Colt .45s, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. He was an everyday player for the White Sox in 1969, batting .304 with 32 RBIs and 59 runs scored in 135 games. He hit .294 with eight homers and 35 RBIs in 114 games for Chicago in 1971, and .289 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 104 games for the Indians in 1973.
Popular also for his hustling style of play, Williams spent two seasons with the Yankees, batting .281 in 185 at-bats in 1975, mostly coming off the bench to help New York contend in the American League East before the team faded late in the season.
He was the great uncle of outfielder Mason Williams, currently ranked No. 12 among Yankees prospects by MLBPipeline.com, and the uncle of Derwin Williams (Mason's father), a wide receiver for the New England Patriots from 1985-87.
The nickname "No Neck" was hung on the muscular 5-foot-6 Walt Williams because of his physical appearance. A typhus injection he received in his neck when he was very young, following a flood in Brownwood, caused his neck to shrink.
After being released by the Yankees in January 1976, Williams played two seasons for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan and two seasons in the Mexican League. He was first-base coach for the White Sox in 1988 and managed three seasons, 1992-94, in the Minor Leagues.
Bobbie Dittmeier is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.