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Wilson was a first-round draft choice for Kansas City in 1974 after he turned down a football scholarship to the University of Maryland. His great speed made him an acceptable leadoff hitter, although he hardly ever walked, and an exciting outfielder in spacious Royals Stadium.
Once Wilson started playing every day, he hit .300 for four successive seasons, and he had stolen more than 30 bases in eleven consecutive seasons through 1988. In 1980 Wilson became the second player to collect 100 hits from each side of the plate in a season. He was Royals Player of the Year in 1981. Five times he led the AL in triples. He played 148 straight errorless games in 1987 (325 chances).
Wilson's twelve strikeouts in the 1980 World Series set a record, but he exonerated himself by batting .367 in the 1985 "I-70 Series" against the Cardinals.