Willie James: ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

When I first started this project I had no idea what it would entail. I hope that my story will inspire those that read it to never give up! To the fans, the Kansas City Royals, the Kansas City T-Bones and the people of Kansas City -thank you for giving me the opportunity to return and be a part of our fine community. My friends and family, you’ve stood by me when I didn’t even want to stand by myself. Thank you for not giving up on me.

To my children, I pray that you will hold onto the memories of the love I have for each of you. Not growing up knowing my Dad made me want to be the best father I could to you. You are each my legacy! Let my life live on through each of you! Thanks to Bob Snodgrass and Ascend Books, for picking me for this project. I would like to thank the writer, Kent Pulliam for the many hours of work he has put into the book and telling my story through my eyes. Willie Wilson I’d like to thank Willie Wilson for allowing me to tell his story. Although I follow sports in Kansas City closely and occasionally covered Royals games, I had no idea the path Willie took to the Major Leagues – and more importantly the path he walked afterwards and the trials he has overcome. Research for this book could not have happened without great cooperation from the Royals, and particularly Mike Swanson, Colby Curry and Curt Nelson. Thanks also to Summit High School employees and teachers Sandra Soltis, Mary Beth Reardon and Don Standing for researching and making available photos from the Summit High School yearbook. Editor Jim Bradford did a masterful job of making sure the book’s text remained true to Willie’s voice. And thanks to my wife Gina for allowing me to spend hours in front of the computer screen that could have been spent with her.

Royals Hall of Famer Willie Wilson played an integral part in the only two World Series appearances the Royals made, batting .311 against the St. Louis Cardinals in the Royals only World Series title in 1985. A superb lead-off hitter, Wilson led the American League in stolen bases his second full season in the Major Leagues in 1979, won the team’s Player of the Year award in 1980 when he led the league in hits, runs, triples, singles and won the Gold Glove for defensive excellence. In 1982, Wilson was the Major League batting champion, hitting .332, winning his first trip to the All Star game. A speedster on the base path, Wilson led the league in triples five times and his 13 inside-the-park home runs is the most by any player in the modern-day era. He has 668 career stolen bases, ranking No. 10 in Major League baseball history. He was voted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 2000. Willie lives in Kansas City where he is head of the Willie Wilson Baseball Foundation. His on- and off-field experiences give him a unique opportunity to work with corporations for speaking engagements, team-building exercises and fund-raising events as well as offer baseball and life guidance for inner-city youth in clinics he conducts. Kent Pulliam spent more than 30 years as a sports journalist for The Kansas City Star. He has won several writing awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Missouri Press Association. He has written two other books: For Wildcats Fans Only and Inside the Jayhawks Huddle. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with his wife Gina. This is his third book. Visit www.ascendbooks.com for more great titles on your favorite teams and athletes.

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