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A little backstory:

When a post asked which MLB baseball players approached a .400 batting average since Ted Williams last accomplished that...I thought of George Brett.  Brett did get close, finishing one magic season with a .390 BA.  Brett of course was  a great baseball player, a hall of famer and fun to watch and follow.  Brett played for the Kansas City Royals during their best period from the mid 1970's to the mid 1980's when they were one of the best teams in the major leagues, played in many playoffs, and made and won a World Series.

But wait...While Brett was the star of the team he had an excellent high quality teammate in a fellow named Willie Wilson.  Do any of you recall him?  Willie Wilson was the fastest player in MLB during those years, made some all star teams and had a long successful baseball career, primarily with the Royals.

Before Willie Wilson made it to MLB he was one of the all-time storied athletes in New Jersey high school team sports.  I knew of him because he competed in the little conference of teams my town played in:  The Suburban Conference in Northern NJ.  The members of this conference were smaller schools in Northern NJ.  The high school classes probably had between 150-300 students each.  These were small, suburban schools.  They were not known as incubators for super star athletes.

Willie Wilson was the exception.  For two years running he was All-State in both football and baseball and was also a tremendous basketball player.  He dominated that conference, let alone was a super star in the state from among high school athletes.  Reportedly he was the most recruited high school football player in the nation that year.   Wilson spurned college football, was a high draft choice with MLB and within a few years made it to the big leagues for a long career.

Go back to Willie Wilson's high school career and you can find the following video of his football highlights.

Catch the following video.  Its precious.  Do you recall Thanksgiving day football games with your town's biggest rival???   Not only is the video precious but the comments take you back to those hallowed high school days........


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Willie Wilson! I remember him like I remember Amos Otis: in name only, but in name strongly. I knew he was a speedster, but I didn't realize he was 12th all-time in Stolen Bases - to put this in perspective, since Wilson retired in 1994, only Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, and Vince Coleman have retired with more stolen bases.

And I sure as heck didn't remember that Wilson won the 1982 AL Batting Championship, hitting .332 (although that was his 4th-straight year batting over .300).

Note: Coleman was Henderson-like, but for only half as long - he led the NL in stolen bases in each of his first-six years, stealing over 100 in each of his first three seasons, which nobody has ever done before or since - he must have gotten injured.

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I followed him.   I'm a bit older than him but he was unquestionably the greatest athlete out of  a now defunct sports conference of small towns, small schools of which my town was one.  I used to enjoy those team bus rides to his town, Summit, and the five neighboring towns against which we regularly competed...all fancier towns with some large houses and wealthier neighborhoods.  Seeing those big homes from our team school bus was the incentive we used to play harder.

He is evidently considered one of the greatest high school athletes from NJ, all time.  If you search on him in youtube with a search phrase such as Willie Wilson Summit NJ, you will find the above video.  The comments following the video are sweet.  They loved him in Summit.

I periodically followed the Royals on TV in their heyday when Brett, Wilson and some other stars played.  Brett was a superstar with an obvious amount of enthusiasm.  Willie Wilson often chopped at the ball and as the fastest guy in baseball beat out infield hits all the time.  The other claim about him was that he didn't get as many triples as he should have as he turned them into inside the park home runs.  Even with that he had a paltry total of home runs for a 19 year career.  But we are speaking of the fastest guy in baseball during that era.

Willie was adversely affected by cocaine, being caught and jailed for its use in the early 80's and then evidently getting addicted in his after baseball life.  He went through rehab and has been clean for a long time now.  Regardless he remains a big hero in the Kansas City area as one of their stars during their greatest stretch of baseball.

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