For 15 years, Willie Wilson was one of the premier leadoff hitters in Major League Baseball for the Kansas City Royals.
Wednesday morning at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, he was happy to fill the third spot in the order, as he was announced as the third Negro Leagues bobblehead in a series produced by the museum and Hy-Vee food stores in the metro area.
Frank White, the Royals Hall of Fame second baseman who has had his No. 20 retired by the taem, and center fielder Amos Otis, the team’s first all-star caliber player, were the first two bobbleheads introduced the past two years.
“I’m used to leading off, but I’m fine being third behind Frank and Amos,” said Wilson, a two-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Bat winner, the 1983 American League batting champion and a Gold Glove Award winner. “I actually thought there were a couple of guys who could go before me – Big John (Mayberry) and Hal (McRae). So this is a special day. I am really honored by this and am excited to be the third bobblehead in the series.”
The bobblehead is in production and no images of it were available. Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, said it should be available Nov. 2 at Hy-Vee stores in the metro area.
“Frank was the leadoff collectible and Amos followed,” said Kendrick, who accepted a check for $20,000 from Hy-Vee from the sale of the Otis bobbleheads. “We are featuring Willie in a 1924 Kansas City Monarchs uniform.
“That team won the World Series, and featured Wilbur ‘Bullet Joe’ Rogan, one of the best all-around players in the Negro Leagues.”
To honor Rogan, the “Bullet Joe” hot dog, topped with brisket, baked beans, Monterey Jack Cheese, fried onions and spicy barbeque sauce, will be featured at Saturday’s Heart Of America Hot Dog Festival in the historic 18th and Vine district in downtown Kansas City.
Tickets are $20 and include admission to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. There will be only 500 of the limited-edition “Bullet Joe” hot dogs available.
“I suggested a ‘Six Dog,’” said Wilson, who wore No. 6 during his Hall of Fame Royals career. “I’m from the South, so it would be fried, and sliced and covered with cheese, onions and mayonnaise and ketchup.”
When that message was passed along to Kendrick, he grinned and said, “I like it! I like it!”
The festival runs from 2 to 11 p.m. and will feature performances by funk and R&B legends Cameo, as well as The SOS Band and soul singer Avery Sunshine at the Gem Theater.
As Wilson visited with fans at the museum and tasted a “Bullet Joe” hot dog, he issued a challenge.
“I know that Amos’ bobblehead raised $20,000,” Wilson said, “let’s see if mine can top that total.”