William Edwin Melton
(Beltin' Bill, Beltin' Melton)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 200 lb.
- School Citrus College
- High School Duarte High School
- Debut May 4, 1968
- Final Game August 30, 1977
- Born July 7, 1945 in Gulfport, MS USA
Bill Melton played a decade in the majors and was a big star with the Chicago White Sox, where he spent most of his career, posting double figures in homers in six seasons.
After attending Citrus College, where he also played football, Melton was signed by the White Sox in 1964 and reached the majors in 1968. He was the team's starting third baseman the following Opening Day, in 1969 (replacing Pete Ward), and clubbed 23 homers that year. While he was a success at the plate, he struggled in the field. In 1970, he made 12 errors in his first 24 games at third. The twelfth error, misjudging a routine pop fly, broke his nose, and not long after he returned from the injury, he was moved to right field. From July 23rd to July 28th that same summer, he struck out in 11 consecutive at-bats over the course of four games. Nonetheless, he ended the year with a White Sox record 33 home runs, sixth best in the American League.
Moved back to third base, Melton had an even better year at the plate in 1971, leading the AL with 33 homers. He hit his final home run of the year on the season's last day, breaking a three-way tie with Reggie Jackson and Norm Cash. He became the first White Sox player to lead the circuit in round trippers, a particularly impressive feat since the club played in Comiskey Park, widely regarded as a pitcher's park. The following offseason, he suffered a back injury that cost him most of 1972. He hit 20 home runs in 1973 and 21 in 1974, but in 1975 he hit just 15, and his batting average dropped to .240. Following that season, he was traded with Steve Dunning to the California Angels for Jim Spencer and Morris Nettles. Melton ended his White Sox career as the club's all-time leading home run hitter (at the time) with 154.
Baseball Digest in 1988 reported that Melton was working as a real estate agent in Newport Beach, California. He later went to work for the White Sox marketing department before embarking on a career as a broadcaster for the club. He has been a Sox analyst for Comcast SportsNet Chicago, later moving to NBC Sports Chicago, since 2005.
- AL All-Star (1971)
- AL Home Runs Leader (1971)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (1969-1971, 1973 & 1974)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1970 & 1971)
- Bill Melton (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, June 1989, pp. 65-69.