Earl Craig Williams Jr., who grew up in Montclair, passed away on Jan. 29. Williams was 64 and passed away in his home in Somerset.
Williams, who was born in July 1948 in Newark and lived in East Orange before he moved to Montclair, was an all-state baseball player out of Montclair High School where he also played basketball. He graduated in 1965.
He died of acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood.
After three years of playing baseball at Ithaca College, he left to play professional ball for the Milwaukee Braves in 1965, which moved to Atlanta the following year, according to The New York Times.
In his 1971 rookie season, he was voted the National League’s Rookie of the Year. Throughout his career, he played for the Braves, Orioles, Expos and Athletics.
“He was a fun-loving guy ... [and] a very good storyteller,” said his sister Pamela Reilly, who lives in Montclair. “He was blessed to have an opportunity to do something that he always wanted to do.”
Williams is also well known for taking out a jobs advertisement in The New York Times in June 1978 seeking employment on any baseball team after being waived by the A's.
The ad read: "Employment Wanted By Baseball Player ... 8 yrs. in the major leagues ... 138 hr's–457 rbi's ... SALARY: Very Reasonable, Excellent Health — No Police Record ... HAVE BAT – WILL TRAVEL – WILL HUSTLE," according to NPR.
Williams remained active in Montclair, participating in various Montclair High School athletic programs and fundraisers. In 2010, he took part in the Mountie MHS Grid Iron Club’s celebrity softball game as a commentator.
“He supported the baseball and football teams,” said Reilly, “and you could see him there supporting both those teams. He liked to brag about how good the football team was when he was in high school.”
Williams’ mother, Dolores “Bobby” Reilly, was also a former Montclair councilor.
Mayor Robert Jackson, who had served on the council with Dolores Reilly, read a proclamation from the township memorializing Williams' passing at the start of the council meeting on Tuesday. Jackson also remarked about his own experience of knowing Williams.
"One of the few things that struck me about Earl ... was his intellect," said Jackson. "... He also had this incredible curiosity.
... Third thing was his ability — like his mother has — to immediately fill up a room. He would walk in and all attention, all eyes, all heads would turn to Earl."
After baseball, Williams worked as a production supervisor for Warner Jenkinson Cosmetic Colors in South Plainfield.
The funeral services were held on Feb. 9 at the First Baptist Church in Lincoln Gardens. On Monday, he was interred at Rosedale Cemetery in Montclair.