Wilson, who spent 15 seasons with the Royals, sold his World Series ring at a bankruptcy auction in 2001. On Tuesday, Wilson wiped away tears after he was surprised with an exact duplicate of the ring while he was promoting his autobiography at the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City.
"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."
The Royals gave Wilson's business partner, Helen Mohr, permission to have an exact duplicate of the ring made and she led efforts to raise almost $9,000 to have the work done by Balfour Jewelry in Austin, Texas. Friends, including Pearl Jam star Eddie Vedder, contributed to the cause, The Kansas City Star reported ( http://bit.ly/1dIKWg2).
"I've known him since 2004, and he's always mentioned getting a ring," said Mohr, who runs the website WillieWilsonBaseball.org. "But you know, life gets in the way."
Wilson, who played 15 of his 19 major league seasons with the Royals, was a two-time All-Star known for his speed. He finished his career with 612 stolen bases and 13 inside-the-park home runs, and he led the American League in triples five times.
Wilson and three other Royals were arrested on drug charges in 1983, and he spent 81 days in prison before returning to the team. He also played for the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics before retiring in 1994. Wilson began using cocaine again in the late 1990s, but later managed to quit. He details his struggles and triumphs in his book, "Inside the Park, Running the Base Path of Life,"
"I had thought about doing it a few years ago, but I wasn't ready," Wilson said. "I'm happy with it because it's the truth. I'm not trying to fool anyone."
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com