From Cleveland, Ohio Leonard was a member of the Cleveland Scrappers as a player (NBBA Hall of Fame 2015), player/manager, team president, manager from 1986 until his death in 2008. He once said in a TV interview in 1993 that he loves this sport so much that “When I die, I want to be buried in my Scrappers uniform”. In April, 2008 his family and friends honored that wish with heavy hearts.
Leonard has four World Series All Tournament Defensive Team appearances to his credit, his first being in the 1995 Denver World Series. He then made the All-Tournament Teams for Defense in 1997, 1998 and 2000.
Leonard had served as President of the Cleveland Scrappers from 1995 to 2007 and as coach from 1995-2001. There are countless occasions where Leonard’s leadership had benefited our team. He served on the NBBA Board of Directors from 1997-2003 and 2004-2006. He worked on the Rules Committee and served on the 2001 and 2006 NBBA World Series Host Committees.
Leonard was involved in the first story submitted for “The Beep Baseballs Great Moments” book. The story reports how an umpire accused Lenny of cheating during a game. The umpire walked out to his position and told Leonard he can see under the left side of his blindfold. Lenny pulled up his blindfold, pulled out his glass eye and handed it to the umpire. The umpire said, “I guess you’re just good”. Simply stated, for his numerous accolades and his leadership, Leonard Williams has earned his ticket to the NBBA Hall of Fame”.
A couple of quotes from interviews capture the gist Leonard’s spirit and desire to overcome.
- “The thrill of hitting the ball and scoring a run gives you the incentive to try other things” says team captain Leonard Williams “You think: “I can do this” (Sight Center Insight Newsletter Fall, 1997).
- “Sometimes you hear that blind people can’t do anything, but we try to make that impossible.” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer June 20, 1998).
When Leonard joined the Scrappers in 1986, he immediately developed into an impact player and team leader. He joined fellow NBBA Hall of Famers Marty Skutnik and Wilbert Turner on a very gifted Cleveland infield that would elevate the team to a top ten NBBA team for many years. A very good contact hitter with some pop and good speed Leonard would go on to make four NBBA World Series All Star teams for Defense during his playing career which ended in 2004. Before Leonard learned he had Diabetes during the 1988 season he could do it all. If we had better statistics from all levels before nerve damage in his feet and hands cost Leonard, his speed on the bases and his ability to drive the ball, he would have had more recognition. As he adjusted his game Leonard willed his way through a great deal of pain to still continue to contribute which is reflected by his awards on defense from the mid-nineties until the end of his playing days. Leonard remained active because he felt it was important for his health and also because he wanted to be an example to others to never give up and continue to show that “We can” attitude.
- Cleveland Scrappers 1986-2008
- Chicago Insight 1993 World Series
World Series All Star Awards
- 1995 at Denver, CO Defense 5.13 Putout Ave.
- 1997 at Topeka, KS Defense 4.83 Putout Ave.
- 1998 at Oklahoma City, OK Defense 4.80 Putout Ave.
- 2000 at Taipei, Taiwan Defense 3.40 Putout Ave.
- Leonard played in 14 total NBBA World Series competitions beginning in 1987. The available statistics do not paint a good picture of how good a player he was during the late 1980s through the mid-1990s.
All Star Awards Other Tournaments
- 1987 Eastern Regional Tournament at Binghamton, NY
- 1988 Eastern Regional Tournament at Binghamton, NY
- 1990 Eastern Regional Tournament at Binghamton, NY
- 1998 Defense MVP CEFB Cup Tournament at Taipei, Taiwan (CEFB-Cultural & Educational Foundation F/T Blind)
- 2000 Defense 17 Putouts at Viper Classic Columbus, OH
- 2002 Defense at Indy Thunder Tournament Indianapolis, IN
NBBA Jim Quinn Award Winner 2006
First Nomination Letter – 1998 and resubmitted in 2006 by Kevin Barrett
Dear Jim Quinn Award Committee,
“Leonard Williams joined the Scrappers in July 1986 and he immediately developed into an impact player and team leader. A very good contact hitter with some pop and good speed Leonard would go on to make Five NBBA World Series All Star teams for Defense during his playing career which ended in 2004. Leonard also had numerous awards and was named to many state and regional tournament all-star teams for both his batting and defense. Leonard very seldom struck out in competition, and he was highly regarded by opposing teams from around the country and Taiwan.
Leonard was very dedicated and had a deep passion for the game of Beep Baseball. He had to overcome serious illness so he could continue to play ball and he demonstrated a great deal of courage and determination to do so, playing in pain many times As a team leader, Leonard was a co-captain, player manager, manager and president of the Scrappers. In 1988 Leonard was diagnosed with diabetes and he never let his illness slow him down despite circulatory problems in his legs and hands.
Leonard played his heart out in every game no matter what the situation. He played every competition as if it was his last. He was a leader by example on the field by never giving up. Though misguided, when Leonard tried to play through the pain in his foot at the 1999 NBBA Series in Sacramento it demonstrated how much he placed the team above himself. His circulatory problems robbed Leonard of his great running ability but, he did not get down and discouraged. Through hard work and a great deal of heart Leonard adjusted his style of play. Still a very superb contact hitter he worked on spraying the ball to different fields so as, to remain a scoring threat. On defense though his legs stole some of his range, Leonard made all the plays that came his way establishing him as one of the best infielders in the history of Beep Baseball.
For many years Leonard, Marty Skutnik and Wilbert Turner gave the Scrappers an awesome All Star set of infielders. Beginning in 1995 Leonard became the president of the Scrappers to go with his other duties which included two six-year terms on the NBBA Board of Directors.
Under his leadership the Scrappers expanded our community service efforts to educate the public. The Scrappers have done a great deal of educational work with school children to better educate them about those who are blind and visually impaired by doing demonstrations or running disability awareness days.
Leonard was our liaison with our Cleveland Sight Center who has been our best partner in helping uplift those who are sight impaired. Leonard was always a positive example of the concept of “Yes I can do this”. Despite such pain in his legs, he always showed up and helped out in the Scrappers concession stands at Jacobs Field and Cleveland Browns Stadium. He was always a mainstay in our community service programs. If Leonard missed a game, a practice or any function he was most likely too sick to move or was hospitalized.
He was always positive and always ready to help out no matter what the task. His never die attitude helped guide the Scrappers through some very difficult times. Leonard was in many ways was the heart and soul of the Cleveland Scrappers. Through sheer will he helped the team overcome some big odds. His sense of humor always kept the ball club loose. No matter how poor he was feeling on any given day Leonard did his best and gave it his all. He always came to play as the saying goes.
Leonard Williams loved this game and his teammates very much. Only his family mattered more. He was always on the ready to spread the word about Beep Baseball to potential players, volunteers and donors. Leonard was most certainly our emotional leader and Beep Baseball in Cleveland has survived and begun to flourish thanks a great deal to his many contributions. This is why I believe Leonard O. Williams is such an overwhelming candidate for the Jim Quinn Award”.
Kevin T. Barrett,
Broadview Hts. Lions Club
Second Nomination Letter – January 20, 2006 by the Williams Family
National Beep Baseball Jim Quinn Award
“In May of 1986 a young man of 36 years of age in a suit coat and church going street shoes came to try out for this beep baseball team. Invited by one of the players he became a slow success. After being on the bench for a few days he got his starting position. And three months later at the age of 37 he became rookie of the year. After playing and winning numerous awards in New York, Denver, Oklahoma, Kansas and Taiwan he became one of the best players in the world. While playing in the national tournament, he started learning the ins and outs of working with his hometown beep baseball team. Things such as helping run raffles, giving speeches, and working with young children and adults of all ages with visual handicaps. With a loving wife and three children in 1995 he became president of the local beep baseball team. He went on to move the team forward with help from a great cast of board members and the local organization to form one of the top beep baseball teams in the world. In the past two years health and diabetic problems has stopped his career as a player, but he has continued to work hard and fight hard to keep the team strife and sometimes turmoil strong. Now an ongoing member of the National Beep Baseball Association he will continue to make the national board a success”.