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Willie Wilson
Center fielder / Left fielder
Born: July 9, 1955 (1955-07-09) (age 54)
Montgomery, Alabama
Batted: Switch Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 4, 1976 for the Kansas City Royals
Last MLB appearance
May 16, 1994 for the Chicago Cubs
Career statistics
Batting average     .285
Hits     2,207
Stolen bases     668
Career highlights and awards

Willie James Wilson (born July 9, 1955) is a former Major League Baseball player for the Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, and Chicago Cubs. He was an outfielder known for his speed and ability as an effective leadoff hitter.

Wilson was a highly regarded high school baseball, football, and basketball player in Summit, New Jersey. In spite of being struck out three times in 1971 by Junior Varsity pitcher Jeff Edwards, Wilson was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 1974 draft, and he made his debut with the team as a September call-up two years later. He led the league in stolen bases in 1979, his first season as a full-time player in the majors. In 1980 he led the league in plate appearances, and his 705 official at-bats that season were a major league record until it was surpassed by Jimmy Rollins in 2007. Additionally, Wilson won a batting title in 1982, with a .332 batting average.

Willie was an American League All-Star in 1982 & 1983. Wilson was named an OF on The Sporting News AL Silver Slugger Team in 1980 & 1982. Wilson also won a Gold Glove and finished 4th in the MVP voting during his record setting 1980 campaign. Wilson led the American League in singles for 4 consecutive seasons (1979-1982).

In 1983, Wilson found himself in a drug scandal along with teammates Willie Aikens, Vida Blue, and Jerry Martin. All four pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drug charges (attempting to purchase cocaine) and became the first active major leaguers to serve jail time, serving 81 days at Fort Worth, Texas, Federal Correctional Institution. He was suspended by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for the entire 1984 season, but the suspension was reduced on appeal and he was able to return on May 15. The Royals traded or released the other three, with only Wilson returning to the Royals, and he hit .301 and stole 47 bases after his return.

Wilson left the Royals following the 1990 season and he wound up his career with two seasons in Oakland and parts of two seasons with the Chicago Cubs, mostly as a fourth outfielder. Wilson retired with a .285 career batting average and 668 stolen bases. He was elected to the Royals Hall of Fame in 2000.

Wilson coached in the Toronto Blue Jays system in 1995 and 1997. He currently runs The Willie Wilson Baseball Foundation and lives in Toronto, Ontario.

In 2003, Wilson was named field manager of the London Monarchs Baseball Club in the fledgling Canadian Baseball League, but the league folded half-way through the 2003 season.


Career Notes

In the 1980 World Series, which the Royals lost 4 games to 2 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wilson had the dubious distinction of setting a World Series record by striking out 12 times, including the final out of the Series against Tug McGraw. This record would stand until Ryan Howard struck out 13 times in the 2009 World Series.

In later post season series, Wilson gained a measure of redemption from the albatross of that performance, hitting .310 against Toronto in the 1985 ALCS and .367 against St. Louis in the 1985 World Series, and stealing seven bases in the 1992 ALCS against Toronto.

In 1982, Wilson became the first switch-hitter since Mickey Mantle in 1956 to win the American League batting title. The only switch-hitters to lead the A.L. in batting since then are Bernie Williams in 1998 and Bill Mueller in 2003.

For his career, Wilson hit 13 inside-the-park home runs, the most of any Major League player playing after 1950.

See also


External links

Preceded by
Ron LeFlore
American League Stolen Base Champion
Succeeded by
Rickey Henderson
Preceded by
Carney Lansford
American League Batting Champion
Succeeded by
Wade Boggs


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