The Chicago Cubs' first National League Rookie of the Year winner went on to a Hall of Fame career.
Tragedy struck their next one.
Since then, three more young Cubs have taken the prize, but to varying degrees failed to build on their award-winning beginnings.
So will Kris Bryant, the club's sixth Rookie of the Year, be the next Billy Williams ... or the next Jerome Walton?
Before we look forward, let's take a look back.
Billy Williams, 1961
Williams slugged 25 homers and drove in 86 runs as a 23-year-old outfielder for a dreadful Cubs team in 1961 -- numbers good enough to easily beat out Joe Torre for NL Rookie of the Year. Williams would become a Windy City staple for 16 seasons, making six All-Star teams and twice finishing as the runner-up to Johnny Bench in the NL MVP vote.
The "soft-spoken, clutch performer" -- according to his Hall of Fame plaque -- got his ticket to Cooperstown in 1987.
Ken Hubbs, 1962
Yes, the Cubs were dreadful in 1961, but they were even worse in 1962, losing 103 games and only avoiding the NL basement because of the expansion New York Mets, whose 120 losses still stand as the modern MLB record. The light-hitting Hubbs, who struck out a league-worst 129 times, won a Gold Glove at second base -- at one point going a then-record 78 straight games and 418 total chances without an error -- and was a near-unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year.
But Hubbs' story, which began with such promise, turned tragic before the start of what would have been his third full season. On Feb. 15, 1964, he attempted to beat a Utah storm and was killed when the small plane he was piloting crashed en route to California. He was just 22 years old.
Jerome Walton, 1989
Walton's future seemed so bright after the 23-year-old center fielder won the Rookie of the Year award and came up huge in the Cubs' NLCS loss to the San Francisco Giants, hitting .364 in the series. But he arrived at spring training in 1990 out of shape and a series of issues off the field helped turn his time with the Cubs into a nightmare.
He'd play for five more teams but would never live up to his promise, appearing in just 598 games over parts of 10 seasons.
Kerry Wood, 1998
Wood had tough competition for Rookie of the Year in '98, but edged Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton for the title by striking out 233 hitters in 166 2/3 innings -- a league-best 12.6 per nine innings. Wood -- who then missed all of 1999 after Tommy John surgery and was a disabled list mainstay during his 14 years in baseball -- would never quite became the superstar Helton became, but Kid K had his moments. Four times he struck out 200-plus hitters and, after repeated arm injuries forced him to the bullpen, he recorded 54 saves across the 2008 and 2009 seasons with the Cubs and Cleveland Indians.
Wood retired in 2012 with 86 wins, 1,582 strikeouts and 63 saves on his résumé.
Geovany Soto, 2008
Soto is still in the majors -- he hit .219 in 78 games for the Cubs' South Side rivals, the Chicago White Sox, this past season. But though the Puerto Rican catcher put together a few solid years at Wrigley, he has never approached his 2008 rookie campaign, when his 23 home runs, 86 RBIs and .285 batting average propelled him to his first and only All-Star Game.
He also helped make a bit of baseball history that year, calling Carlos Zambrano's Sept. 14 no-hitter -- the first to be thrown at a neutral site, after Hurricane Ike forced the Cubs and Astros to move their game from Houston to Milwaukee.
Kris Bryant, 2015
Bryant slugged 26 home runs in 2015 to help lead a young Cubs team all the way to the NLCS -- and take home 2015 Rookie of the Year honors.
So how will his career pan out? The sky is the limit for Bryant, but he might want to make contact a little more; his 199 strikeouts led the NL by a country mile, and were second in baseball only to Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis -- who hit 21 more home runs than Bryant did.
For more on Bryant and his potential, click here.