Remembering the Titans: Robert ‘Bobbie’ Williams

Williams played four sports in three years and remains the most versatile athlete in Titan history

Photos courtesy: UWO Archives

Photos courtesy: UWO Archives

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

The inaugural UW Oshkosh Athletic Hall of Fame class of 1974 included Robert “Bobbie” Williams, one of the greatest all-around athletes to ever wear Titan colors.

Williams played football, baseball, basketball and track and field from 1922-25, winning 10 athletic letters in three school years.

Williams came to the Oshkosh State Normal School (now known as UW Oshkosh) from New Richmond High School, where he earned basketball all-state honors as a forward in 1921.

Williams was best known for his play on the football field as a half-back for Oshkosh from 1922-24, leading the Titans to an undefeated 7-0 season and giving UWO their second ever conference title in 1923.

That season, UWO outscored their opponents 175-18 in a schedule that featured Northern Michigan University, UW-Superior, UW-Whitewater, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Platteville, UW-Milwaukee and Ripon College.

A 1923 article from the Oshkosh Advance said that Williams is one of the best open field runners to ever carry a football on a Wisconsin gridiron.

“Oshkosh never had a player who could dodge, twist and squirm through an entire opposing team as Williams has this year,” read the Oshkosh Advance.  “His long runs have thrilled the grandstand again and again this year, as he has ripped off long gains for the gold and white. His elusiveness in escaping tacklers is nothing short of marvelous.”

Williams, who played football, baseball and track and field alongside fellow hall of famer Edward “Ed” Hall, was also known to be a tremendous pass catcher for the Titans during his three seasons.

“Bobbie’s spectacular playing will long be remembered. He was the rooters’ idol. It was always with much joy that his supporters watched the swift running, stopping, pivoting and dodging of this small half-back,” the Quiver yearbook said of Williams in 1925. “Time and time again he carried the ball for successive times, far into the enemy’s territory.”

Williams was also a member of the baseball team from 1923-25, helping Oshkosh to an undefeated 1923 season in which UWO took down Lawrence College, Ripon College and UW-Milwaukee to finish 6-0.

The next season, UWO won the State Normal School Championship by going undefeated once again, defeating UW Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater and St. Norbert College to finish 5-0.

According to the 1924 Quiver yearbook, Williams liked to bunt the ball and use his speed to beat out the throw at first base.

“Bobbie Williams is another outfield star who is making a record for himself in baseball,” read the 1924 Quiver yearbook. “Undoubtedly one of the most sensational fielders in Oshkosh Normal history, he saved many a game by his stellar work in the gardens. He, too, is a good hitter and a whirlwind on the bases.”

A three-time letter winner on the basketball team from 1923-25, Williams led the Titans to two conference championships in a row.

Oshkosh opened the 1924 season with a string of losses, which included a loss to the Oshkosh alumni, but went on a three-game winning streak that  turned the season around. The Titans claimed the State Normal School Championship on the final day of the season, taking down UW-Superior in a 13-12 thriller.

In 1925, Oshkosh went a perfect 9-0 to grab another conference championship under coach Robert Kolf.

“For three years, Bobbie has been the speeding sensation on the basketball floor. Bobbie has won a place of admiration among the spectators by his accurate passing, his willingness to contribute to teamwork and his jolly good sportsmanship,” the 1925 Quiver yearbook said. “Many times has Bobbie outguessed his opponent and intercepted a pass or taken the ball from an opponent on the dribble.”

Williams, who participated in track and field in 1924 and 1925, helped the Titans finish second in the 1924 Intra-State Normal Track Meet and once held the school record in the broad jump with a 19ft. 10-1/4 jump.

The undersized Williams left it all on the playing field and helped the Titans achieve a string of conference championships in the 1920s, cementing his place in the Athletic Hall of Fame.