Tuesday, June 25, 2024

1981 Topps Willie Wilson


The front: The photographer captures a skeptical-looking Wilson before a game at Yankee Stadium.

The back: Wilson's 13 career inside-the-park home runs are the most for any player after 1950.

The player: Considered the fastest man in baseball, Wilson's 668 stolen bases are 12th all-time. His 147 triples rank 56th all time, but are the highest for any players in the past 50 years. Among players who played after World War II, only Stan Musial and Roberto Clemente have more. He was more than just a speedster, however. A lifetime .285 hitter, he won the AL batting crown in 1982, hitting .332. He had his best season in 1980, when he hit .326 and led the AL with 133 runs, 230 hits and 15 triples. Overall in 19 seasons, 15 with the Royals, he hit .285 with 2,207 hits, 281 2B, 147 3B, 41 HR, 585 RBI and 668 SB. In 38 postsesason games, he hit .267, stealing 13 bases.

The man: Wilson was the most prominent of the players convicted in the 1984 cocaine trials, and the only one to bounce back and return to their prior form. However, Wilson continued to struggle with drug addiction until drug rehab in 1999. Since then he was briefly a coach in the Diamondbacks organization, and for a while had a baseball foundation in Kansas City. He appears to now be retired.

My collection: I have 107 of his cards, from 1979 to 1994. I would be interested in trading for 1978 SSPC #241.


  1. That HR record of his really impressive. I would've never thought that anyone could've hit that many during the modern era of tiny ballparks.

  2. I inherited a shoebox with a bunch of 1979 Topps cards in the early 80's and his rookie card was inside. I remembered it being a highly treasured card in my collection for a time.