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Royals Hall of Famer Signs with T-Bones

08/07/2009 7:32 PM -

The T-Bones and general manager Chris Browne have announced that they will sign Royals Hall of Famer Willie Wilson to a one-day contract for their game against the Joliet JackHammers on August 22.  Wilson will wear #6 and start in center field for the T-Bones.  The relationship between Browne and Wilson extends back a couple of decades, when Browne was a bat boy for the Royals for seven seasons, beginning with their 1985 World Series season.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to take the field in front of a Kansas City crowd once again,” said Wilson.  “I look forward to putting on a T-Bones uniform and playing my last game in front of the hometown fans.”

Wilson, 54, played 19 years in the major leagues, including 15 years for the Kansas City Royals from 1976-90.  He was awarded two Silver Slugger Awards (1980, 82) and one Gold Glove (1980) while playing in two all-star games (1982, 83) and reaching as high as fourth in the MVP voting (1980).  Wilson sits near the top of many Kansas City records and still holds the Royals record for stolen bases (612), 272 more than any other player in team history.  Wilson is also second in team history in triples (133), third in runs (1060), and fourth in hits (1968).  He won the American League batting title in 1982 with a .332 mark, led the league in singles for four consecutive years (1979-82) and led the league in triples five times (1980, 82, 85, 87-88).  He was the starting centerfielder on the Royals 1985 World Series squad.

Wilson spent two years with the Oakland Athletics and two more with the Chicago Cubs before retiring after the 1994 season.  Wilson held the career record for at bats in a single-season with 705 until he was passed by Jimmy Rollins in 2007.  For his career, Wilson hit 13 inside-the-park home runs, the most of any player after 1950.

“We are happy to welcome Willie to the T-Bones family and the Northern League,” Browne added.  “We think it is appropriate to sign Willie to a contract so he can end his baseball playing career in Kansas City, where he belongs.”

Wilson has decided to donate the money raised from an autograph session and jersey auction, as well as his T-Bones salary to charity.  The Willie Wilson Foundation conducts baseball camps and clinics for all boys and girls age 7-14 and teams with other organizations to provide services for children in need.  Most recently, the foundation teamed up with Team Smile to provide free dental screening and treatment to underserved children.  To learn more about the foundation, visit www.williewilsonbaseball.org

The T-Bones are members of the independent Northern League, a six-team entity that will expand to eight organizations in 2010.  The league currently has three Chicago-land teams:  Joliet, Ill; Gary, Ind; Schaumburg, Ill; as well as teams in Winnipeg, MB, Canada; and Fargo, N.D.  The two new teams, the expansion Lake County Fielders (Zion, Ill.) and current Frontier League franchise, Rockford RiverHawks (Loves Park, Ill.), will join the league next season.