Willie Wilson

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Willie James Wilson

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Biographical Information[edit]

Willie Wilson played nineteen years in the major leagues, leading the American League in batting in 1982 and five separate times in triples. He was a speedster, ranking 12th on the all-time list for stolen bases. Author Bill James developed a "speed score" which demonstrated that Wilson was the fastest player in Major League Baseball.

Among his notable achievements, 13 of his 41 home runs were inside the park home runs. His 21 triples in 1985 were the most in the major leagues since 1949. In 1980, he set the major league record with 705 at bats in a season which was broken in 2007 by Jimmy Rollins with 716 AB. Wilson's 705 is still the AL standard. He also had 230 hits, 133 runs, and 15 triples in 1980, leading the league. However, in that year's World Series, he struck out a record 12 times in six games, including for the last out of the Series.

Wilson served 81 days in federal prison prior to the 1984 season, pleading guilty to misdemeanor drug charges in relation to attempting to purchase cocaine. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn initially suspended him for the entirety of the coming season, but it was reduced on appeal and he returned May 15, 1984. The other players he was charged with, Willie Aikens, Vida Blue and Jerry Martin, were quickly jettisoned, with Wilson hanging around Kansas City through 1990.

In 2000, Wilson was inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame.

Wilson was a coach for the Syracuse SkyChiefs in 1997, South Bend Silver Hawks in 2001 and Lancaster JetHawks in 2002 [1]. He was manager for the London Monarchs of the Canadian Baseball League in their lone, doomed 2003 campaign; the team was leading the league at the time of the circuit's collapse.

Following the 1980 World Series, Wilson appeared with four of his Royals teammates on Family Feud for one week in 1980. He, John Wathan, Paul Splittorff, Dan Quisenberry and Dennis Leonard played against five members of the Philadelphia Phillies: Del Unser, Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, Dick Ruthven and Garry Maddox.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 1975 Player of the Year Midwest League Waterloo Royals
  • 2-time AL All-Star (1982 & 1983)
  • AL Gold Glove Winner (1980)
  • 2-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1980 & 1982)
  • AL Batting Average Leader (1982)
  • AL At Bats Leader (1980)
  • AL Runs Scored Leader (1980)
  • AL Hits Leader (1980)
  • AL Singles Leader: 4 times (1979, 1980, 1981 & 1982)
  • AL Triples Leader: 5 times (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 & 1988)
  • AL Stolen Bases Leader (1979)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1979 & 1980)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1980)
  • 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 4 (1979, 1980, 1983 & 1987)
  • Won a World Series with the Kansas City Royals in 1985

Records Held[edit]

  • Hits, switch hitter, season, 230, 1980 (tied)
  • Singles, switch hitter, season, 184, 1980

Further Reading[edit]

  • Willie Wilson (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, January 1991, pp. 87-89. [2]

Related Sites[edit]