Wrigley 100 4/6: Billy Ends HOF Pitching Duel
On April 6, 1971, fans attending a chilly Wrigley Field Opening Day were treated to a true Hall of Fame exhibition. For nine innings, the Cardinals Bob Gibson matched Fergie Jenkins allowing only one run through regulation play. Fergie allowed only three hits all day and set the Cards down in order in the 10th. After a Glenn Beckert ground-out, Billy Williams let loose with one of the sweetest swings of his career, driving a Gibson pitch into the right-centerfield bleachers and sending the crowd into delirium.
For Billy, it was a moment he never gets tired of talking about. “We were playing the Cardinals on Opening Day and two guys who were always real competitors, Bob Gibson and Fergie Jenkins, got into a duel out here. It was like those guys were really working. They didn’t throw too many pitches and even though we went to 10 innings, the game barely lasted two hours. It was cold out there and the temperature started to drop. Bob Gibson threw me a slider inside and I made good contact with it. I didn’t know the ball was going out of the ballpark. I was running down to first base saying ‘get up, get up, get up!’ This is what you say when you hit a ball. The ball went into the stands and we won it. That was some kind of exciting.”
What a game – what a moment. Time of game – one hour and 58 minutes.