Willie James Wilson
Bats: Both, Throws: Right
Height: 6' 3", Weight: 190 lb.
Born: July 9, 1955 in Montgomery, AL
High School: Summit (Summit, NJ)
Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 1st round (18th pick) of the 1974 amateur draft.
Debut: September 4, 1976
Teams (by GP): Royals/Athletics/Cubs 1976-1994
Final Game: May 16, 1994
Wilson was a highly regarded high school baseball, football, and basketball player in Summit, New Jersey. 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).
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.
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.
Wilson came out of retirement in 2009, signing a one-day contract with the Kansas City T-Bones, an independent minor league team playing in the Northern League.
Wilson currently oversees the Willie Wilson Baseball Foundation which provides much needed support to the underprivileged in the Greater Kansas City Area.
Wilson struck out against Tug McGraw for the final out of the 1980 World Series, which the Royals lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. This strikeout was Wilson's 12th of the Series, breaking the record of 11 held jointly by Eddie Mathews and Wayne Garrett in the 1958 and 1973 World Series, respectively. Ryan Howard would break Wilson's record by striking 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 the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series, and stealing seven bases in the 1992 ALCS against Toronto, tying Lou Brock's record for steals in one post-season.
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.
Willie Wilson Baseball ® P O Box 34665, Kansas City, MO 64116