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*Joseph Williams was born on this date in 1886. He was a Black right-handed pitcher in the Negro Baseball League.
Williams was born in Seguin, Texas; his father was Black, and his mother was a Comanche Native American. He grew up to become an outstanding baseball pitcher, but as his path to the major leagues was barred by the color line, Williams spent his entire 27-year career pitching in the Negro leagues, Mexico, and the Caribbean. During Williams' years in New York, he acquired the nickname "Cyclone Joe," or simply "Cyclone," frequently listed in box scores solely by that name.
He entered professional baseball in 1905 with the San Antonio Black Bronchos and was an immediate star, posting records of 28-4, 15-9, 20-8, 20-2, and 32-8. After that, the Chicago Giants, a team higher in the pecking order of black baseball, acquired him. In 1910, the Giants owner Frank Leland pronounced him the best pitcher in baseball in any league. In 1911, Williams joined the Lincoln Giants of New York, helping that club become one of the premier Black teams of the era.
When manager John Henry Lloyd departed in 1914, Williams took over as player-manager, a post he held through the 1923 season. After the Lincolns finished an ignominious fifth (out of six teams) in the Eastern Colored League's inaugural season, Williams was released in the spring of 1924. He joined the Brooklyn Royal Giants for a season, then signed with the independent Homestead Grays, where, except for a brief turn with the Detroit Wolves in 1932, he spent the rest of his career in top-level black baseball. Records are sketchy, but in 1914, Williams was credited with winning a total of 41 games against just three losses. In 1929, playing for the Grays in the Negro American League at the age of 43, Williams won 12 games and lost seven.
Although segregation barred Blacks from the Major Leagues, Williams pitched many games against major league stars in post-season barnstorming exhibitions. He was as tough against them as he was against the Negro Leagues, posting a 20-7 record in these games. Among his victims were Grover Alexander, Walter Johnson, Chief Bender, Rube Marquard, and Waite Hoyt, all MLB Hall of Famers. Three different times, he faced the eventual National League champions. He won two of those games and lost the third, 1-0, to the 1917 New York Giants despite throwing a no-hitter. On August 2, 1930, at age 44, he struck out 27 Kansas City Monarchs in a 1–0, 12-inning, one-hit night game victory. His mound opponent, Chet Brewer, struck out 19 men. That same year, he beat a younger Negro League star, Leroy (Satchel) Paige, also by 1–0, in their only meeting against each other.
Williams retired from baseball two years later. Williams is widely recognized as one of the game's greatest pitchers, even though he never played a game in the major leagues. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. He died on February 25, 1951, at age 64, in New York City.