Tuesday night in Kansas City, there was a big event to celebrate the publication of Willie Wilson's new book. But there was more. After Wilson gave a little speech, he was called back to the podium for something else. Here's what happened next (via The Kansas City Star):
He was taking his seat when Helen Mohr, who oversees Wilson’s charitable foundation, called him back to the podium. She had a presentation, a framed plaque with photographs and about 100 names of those who had helped put the evening together.
“It is indeed my honor and my privilege to present Mr. Willie Wilson, No. 6, a World Series ring,” Mohr said.
Many in the room knew a new ring had been created and would be presented. But not Wilson, forced to sell his ring for winning the 1985 World Series at a bankruptcy auction in 2001.
Wilson wiped away tears.
“Wow,” he said, his voice quivering. “I’ll tell you what. This is the best surprise I’ve had in a long time.”
Wilson started back to his seat but had another thought as he slipped on the ring.
“Let me say this,” Wilson said. “Of all the things I lost, this is the only thing I really treasured. I got my kids, I got all the things I really needed. I’m going to wear this again with pride and honor and this time I’m not going to let it go."
This is a really nice story, and I'm really glad it's made Willie Wilson happy, not least because Willie Wilson used to make me happy. He made me happy literally hundreds of times.
That said, it's not really a World Series ring, is it? To be a World Series ring, wouldn't have to have been bought and presented by the Kansas City Royals? That would have been a really nice story ... But then again, we can't really expect the Royals to do something like that. It would be one thing if Wilson had lost his ring in the Missouri River, or had it stolen or something. But he sold it. Baseball teams can't get in the habit of so obviously subsidizing ex-players' bankruptcies.
Or maybe they can, and should. Maybe ever player in a franchise's Hall of Fame should be financially protected in perpetuity, whether in the form of an actual sinecure or just a general sort of understanding. Maybe. But maybe there's room for only so many old ballplayers on the payroll.
Ideally, somebody could have found out who's got Wilson's original ring, and spent whatever it took to get the bauble back. But sometimes you just have to take what you can get. And if Willie Wilson's happy, I'm happy. Again.
The linked article contains an excerpt from Wilson's new book.