General Manager Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox talks on his cell phone in the dugout before the home opener between the White Sox and the Kansas City Royals on April 13, 2004 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Royals 12-5. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Who is Ken Williams?

In 2005, the Chicago White Sox won their first World Series title in nearly 90 years. General Manager Ken Williams was a big reason why. Williams played center field for the White Sox in the late 80s, before joining the team later as a scout in 1992.

His playing career was short-lived, but Williams’ impact as a member of the Sox front office has been remarkable. Williams is regarded as a “baseball mastermind” for turning  the White Sox around in the 2000s.

Williams grew up in San Jose, California and was a two-sport star in baseball and football at Stanford. His football coach maintains he could have been a defensive back in the NFL, but Williams left school when the White Sox drafted him in 1982.

Williams’ father Jerry ran track at San Jose State with famous Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos. His son, Kyle, plays wide-receiver for the San Francisco 49ers.

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

He became the White Sox’s first African-American general manager in 2000, after previously serving as the team’s vice-president of player personnel. Williams, 49, has the best winning percentage as general manager in White Sox history.

“You cannot say enough about Ken Williams’ value to the Chicago White Sox, his contributions to our success and the passion he brings to the ballpark each and every day,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf told

Williams made a big gamble hiring former White Sox shortstop and controversy magnet Ozzie Guillen in 2003. The move paid off handsomely for the team, however, as Guillen guided the Sox to one of the best seasons in franchise history less than two years later.

Williams was one of two African-American general managers in Major League Baseball as of the 2012 season.

What’s next for Williams?

In October, Williams was promoted to executive vice president for the White Sox. He will oversee all aspects of the team, according to WBEZ’s Cheryl Raye Stout. He will also be responsible for generating more buzz about the team and increasing ticket sales for the White Sox.

The Sox finished second in the AL Central in 2012 and will continue to rebuild under Williams’ watchful eye. The Sox have a long way to go to get back to their winning ways of 2005, but expect Williams’ role to expand in the years to come.

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