More specifically, he was the Brewers’ first round pick in 1994, taken fourth overall as a 20-year-old out of Arizona State. The Brewers took Williamson ahead of the likes of Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Konerko, and Jason Varitek. Despite the fact that he never really mastered a level in the minors, the Brewers promoted Williamson aggressively, and he reached the big leagues in 1997, when he posted a .517 OPS in 60 PAs.
He returned to the minors the next year, played another couple seasons in the Brewers system, then played one year in an independent league before retiring as a player. After that, your guess is as good as mine. I couldn’t find any recent articles that hint at where he is today, or what he might be doing, in baseball or otherwise.
I’ve joked about Williamson — as recently as this spring — with friends who are Brewers fans. The fact that he was one of the biggest busts in Brewers draft history (perhaps MLB draft history) means that he will never be completely forgotten by the dedicated fans of my generation, but to see his jersey last night at Miller Park was sort of a surprise.
The way I see it, there is a limited number of explanations that could explain why this man is wearing this jersey — which, by the way, hales from the era of the most hideous uniforms in Brewers history — and how it came to be in his possession:
- • He purchased this jersey new, back in the mid-1990s, full of fervor, bright-eyed about the future of the Brewers. Maybe they had just drafted Jeff “Big Daddy” d’Amico and he felt that the farm was beefing up. He wore it to this game because it is the only Brewers apparel that he owns, or because he has no shame, or because he likes irony, or because he is a masochist.
• He found this jersey at a thrift store sometime between 1998 and two days ago, and wore it to this game because it is the only Brewers apparel that he owns, or because he has no idea who “Williamson 11″ is, or because he likes irony, or because he is a masochistic Brewers fan.
• He is a relative or friend of Antone Williamson, was given this jersey sometime between 1997 and two days ago, and wore it to this game because it is the only Brewers apparel that he owns, or because he has no shame, or because he likes irony, or because he is a sadist.
• He is Antone Williamson, he still has his jersey from 1997, and he is wearing it now because he is hoping that someone will recognize him, or because he is a masochist, or because he is truly a master of irony and has the best sense of humor ever.
There’s a good chance that significant pathos is involved here. Most likely, someone paid good money for this jersey at some point, without Williamson having had much success at any minor league level. Long after he busted out of the game, someone either held on to this jersey (perhaps as a reminder to never spend so frivolously on apparel ever again), or donated it to a thrift store (instead of burning it), or passed it along to someone else (as a joke?). I would really like to talk to that person.
At the same game (last night), I spotted a man in a Mark Grace t-shirt jersey (who also appears to be wearing a Milwaukee Braves hat) and another man in a Tracy McGrady Orlando Magic jersey — one row removed from each other! Which is more surprising?