Ken Williams, Executive Vice President
Ken Williams begins his 12th season as general manager of the Chicago White Sox in 2012 owning the best 11-season winning percentage by any general manager in club history. Williams currently owns the fourth-longest tenure of any general manager in baseball, trailing only Oakland's Billy Beane, Brian Cashman of the Yankees and Colorado's Dan O'Dowd.
The White Sox have finished .500 or better eight times in the last 11 seasons and have gone 929-854 (.521) with a World Series Championship, two division titles (2005 and 2008), four second-place finishes and four third-place finishes under Williams. The team needs 71 more victories to give Williams 1,000 as a general manager.
The 2011 White Sox went 79-83 and finished in third place in the American League Central, 16.0 games behind the divisionwinning Detroit Tigers. Chicago was in first place four days in 2011 and has led its division 507 days over the last 11 years, second-most in the division behind only the Minnesota Twins.
Williams started the 2011-12 offseason by naming former White Sox All-Star third baseman and Gold Glove winner Robin Ventura as the 39th manager in franchise history on October 6. He then re-stocked the organization's pitching ranks, adding RHP Nestor Molina from Toronto on December 6 (for RHP Sergio Santos) and RHP Simon Castro and LHP Pedro Hernandez from San Diego on December 31 (for OF Carlos Quentin).
Williams capped his offseason transactions by re-signing LHP John Danks to a five-year, $58-million contact on December 29. In other key off-season moves, Williams hired scout Marco Paddy on November 29 to serve as his special assistant of international operations and promoted Buddy Bell to vice president of player development/special assignments in January.
In addition to Danks (through 2016), five other current White Sox players signed multiyear extensions while with the club: RHP Gavin Floyd (2013), 1B Paul Konerko (2013), C A.J. Pierzynski (2012), SS Alexei Ramirez (2015 with option) and LHP Matt Thornton (through 2013 with option).
The 2012 White Sox could feature four key players acquired by the club in the last four amateur free agent drafts. INF Gordon Beckham (first round/eighth overall) and INF Brent Morel (third round) both were selected in the 2008 draft, while LHP Chris Sale (first/13th) and RHP Addison Reed (third round) were picked in the 2010 draft. Beckham and Sale were the first members of their draft class to reach the major leagues.
Williams celebrated his fifth season as general manager in 2005 by winning the third World Series title in the franchise's history and the club's first since 1917. The 2005 World Champion White Sox, built around pitching, defense and timely power, became just the second team in major-league history to lead its division wire-to-wire and sweep the World Series in four games. The other was the 1927 New York Yankees. The Sox were 11-1 in postseason play, winning their final eight games.
Following the 2005 World Series Championship, the 2006 White Sox posted a 90-72 record, winning 90 or more games in back-to-back seasons for just the fifth time in franchise history and first since 1963-65. The White Sox won 200 regular season and postseason games from 2005 to 2006, and the 189 combined regular-season wins from 2005-06 are the highest total in back-to-back campaigns by a Sox team since winning 193 in 1964-65.
The 2008 White Sox became the second team to capture an AL Central division title during Williams' tenure. The 2008 Sox went 89-74 (.546) to win the AL Central title by defeating the Twins in a tiebreaker on September 30. The 1-0 victory over Minnesota was the third of three straight must-win games against three different teams to end the regular season. The White Sox 17-game improvement from 2007 (72-90) to 2008 was the franchise's best since 2000, and the Sox finished the decade with eight winning seasons, the most since also posting eight during the 1960s.
Since becoming the franchise's 11th general manager on October 24, 2000, Williams has annually made aggressive moves impacting the major-league roster. He has acquired nine players at the July trade deadline during his 11-year career, most recently trading for RHPs Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart in 2011. Williams also has added Carl Everett (2004), Jose Contreras (2004), Geoff Blum (2005), Ken Griffey Jr. (2008), Jake Peavy (2009) and Edwin Jackson (2010) at the deadline.
Prior to the 2005 championship season, the White Sox signed five free agents – OF Jermaine Dye, RHP Dustin Hermanson, RHP Orlando Hernandez, Japanese INF Tadahito Iguchi and Pierzynski – and each played a key role in helping the team to the World Series title. The Sox also acquired OF Scott Podsednik and RHP Luis Vizcaino in a December 13 trade with the Brewers. In 2004, Williams signed RHP Shingo Takatsu, Japan's all-time saves leader, who was the first Japanese player for the White Sox. In 2003, the Sox signed free agent RHP Esteban Loaiza, who went on to win 21 games and started the 2003 All-Star Game at Guaranteed Rate Field.
During his tenure, Williams has acquired 168 players in 69 trades involving the major-league roster, adding notables such as Hall-of-Fame INF Roberto Alomar (2003-04), Contreras (2004-09), Everett (2003-05), RHP Freddy Garcia (2004-06, '10), Griffey Jr. (2008), and DH Jim Thome (2006-09). His teams also have included four Cuban players, Contreras, Orlando Hernandez (2005), Alexei Ramirez (2008-present) and Dayan Viciedo (2010-present). Williams is the first African-American general manager in Chicago sports history and the third in major-league history, following Bill Lucas (Atlanta, 1979) and Bob Watson (Houston, 1994-95/Yankees, 1996-97). From 2001-03, Williams and Jerry Manuel formed the first African-American general manager/ manager tandem in major-league history. He was listed by Black Enterprise as one of the "Most Powerful Blacks in Sports" for 2005. Williams served as the club's director of minor-league operations from 1995-96 and was promoted to vice president of player development for four additional seasons (1997-2000). Under his direction, the White Sox were named 2000 Organization of the Year by Baseball America and USA Today. Williams has spent 31 seasons in professional baseball and 28 with the White Sox in a variety of capacities, including player, scout and special assistant to the chairman. He served as the director of minor league operations/special assistant to the chairman from November 1995 until becoming vice president of player development in 1997. He joined the club in November 1992 as a scout, specializing in the inner cities, and was named special assistant to chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in 1994. He also worked at SportsChannel in 1995 as a studio analyst on Sox telecasts. Active in the organization's community outreach programs, Williams takes part in the annual "Double Duty Classic" at the ballpark, speaking to young amateur baseball players about their role in the history of the sport. Williams actively supports the team's Amateur City Elite (ACE) youth baseball program, which in 2011 had five players sign Division I scholarships to play baseball. A former outfielder with the White Sox (1986-88), Detroit (1989- 90), Toronto (1990-91) and Montreal (1991), Williams appeared in 451 career major-league games. His best season came as a rookie in 1987, when he hit .281 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI for the White Sox. Williams originally was selected by the Sox in the third round of the June 1982 free agent draft. Born on April 6, 1964, in Berkeley, Calif., Williams attended Stanford University, where he played football. Williams has five children: Temeka, Dedrick, Ken Jr., Kyle and Tyler. Kenny Jr. and Tyler play in the White Sox farm system, while Kyle is a wide receiver for the NFL 's San Francisco 49ers.
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