AL Williams: Richmond Academy

AL Williams

AL Williams was hired to take over the Richmond Academy baseball program after the school did not field a team during the war years. In March of 1949, Williams took over and guided the program to seven straight Georgia High School Association state baseball championships, a record that still stands.

According to the Augusta Chronicle, Williams graduated from Richmond Academy, Augusta Junior College and Wake Forest before attending graduate school at Vanderbilt and working on a doctorate.

While transferring from Augusta College to Wake Forest, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in World War II. Williams served in the Army Air Corps as a gunner in a Liberator bomber. He was shot down in Germany and served as a prisoner of war for 16 months.

From 1951-1957, Williams led Richmond Academy to a 147-13 record and three consecutive Southern Regional Baseball Tournaments (which featured state champions from the Southeast). He coached Richmond Academy until 1969.

Williams later served as the school’s principal from 1975-1983.

A quiet and humble coach, Williams never took credit for his team’s success, instead giving credit to “his boys.”

Williams was also known for his superstitions, especially during the team’s run of titles. Before every game, his teams sang The Lord's Prayer . He never wanted to see two bats crossed on the ground. And he didn't want to see his players change -- or clean -- their uniforms if they were on a hot streak.

During a nine-game winning spurt in 1951, Williams wouldn't allow his players to switch out their socks. With Richmond Academy becoming a co-educational institution that year, captain and second baseman Jack Poppell, who played from 1950-1952, called a meeting and told his teammates they needed to lose a game.

"We couldn't even get a date because we smelled so bad," he said.

Jack Fisher, who played under Williams from 1954-1957 and had an 11-year Major League Baseball career, told The Augusta Chronicle that “Williams was one of the most influential people in my life.”

“He was like a father figure,” Fisher said. “No question, he was a great man.”

Williams passed away in 2011 at 91.

Some information in this article was used from The Augusta Chronicle.