Willie Aikens, understandably, would have great memories of the 1980 World Series. Even if the Royals failed to win the championship, Aikens certainly did his part. In the six game series against the Phillies, Aikens produced a .400/.538/1.100 batting line, slugging four home runs, as he became the first player in history to hit multiple home runs in two World Series games.
Unfortunately, memories and videotapes of those performances were all that Aikens had. His World Series ring, given to the Royals for reaching the Fall Classic for the first time, had been stolen some time in 1981. In fact, the last time that Aikens saw the ring was before he went to visit his mother in South Carolina that year.
"“I last saw it in 1981 before I went to visit my mother in South Carolina. When I got back home, somebody had broken into my apartment and stolen my ring. The last time I saw it was 33 years ago.”"
Fortunately for Willie Aikens, that changed. A friend of his had come to discover that his stolen ring was sitting in a pawn shop in Kansas City. After speaking with the owner of the shop, that friend, Kim Accurso, got the ring back to give to Aikens.
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Considering everything that Aikens had gone through after that magical postseason run, from being incarcerated and suspended in 1983 when he attempted to purchase cocaine to the almost 14 years he spent in prison after selling crack to an undercover police officer, he deserves to have this piece of history returned. Maybe with the ring, should he find himself struggling with those problems in the future, he’ll be able to look upon that memento and think back to the better days.
Now a minor league coach for the Royals, Willie Aikens has gotten his life back together. He can be someone that minor leaguers look to as a mentor, helping to guide them through the pitfalls of being a professional athlete. Fortunately, Aikens has gone from being a cautionary tale to someone that can serve as a guiding force in the lives of younger players.
It may have taken 33 years, but Willie Aikens has his World Series ring back. With everything he went through, it’s good to see.