It would be an understatement to say the life of former big leaguer Willie Mays Aikens has had its share of ups and downs.
This Christmas would be the latest chapter.
In 1980, the former first baseman was seemingly on top of the world. Along with future Hall of Famer George Brett, Willie Wilson and Dennis Leonard, Aikens helped lead the Kansas City Royals to 97 victories and a spot in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Royals would end up losing in six games, but, still…they’d walk away with some pretty sharp American League Championship rings.
Less than a year later, Aikens’ ring was gone. Missing.
“I last saw it in 1981 before I went to visit my mother in South Carolina,” Aikens told The Hall. “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.”
Plenty has happened between the time Aikens last saw that ring and December 24, 2014.
Late in the 1983 season, Aikens (and a handful of his Kansas City teammates) pleaded guilty to attempting to purchase cocaine. A month after his sentencing, he would be traded from the Royals to the Toronto Blue Jays. The 1984 season would begin with Aikens serving a suspension.
Just 30 years old, the career .271 hitter would last see live Major League pitching April 27, 1985.
Years later, Aikens would develop a serious cocaine habit and, in 1994, found himself indicted on four charges of crack cocaine distribution. He’d end up being sentenced to twenty years and eight months in prison, but thanks to some new drug laws, Aikens’ time would be cut short by four years.
With his past behind him, Aikens, now 60, is back working for the Royals (and an author) and on Christmas Eve…this happened.
“I needed to do a good thing…make a difference,” Kim Accurso said.
So when she found out recently from a local Kansas City pastor that he thought he heard Aikens’ ring was at a nearby pawn shop…Accurso did what came naturally.
“I pounded the pavement to find the owner of that pawn shop. I tracked him down and eventually we set up a meeting,” Accurso continued. “He had the ring. I told him my story and he agreed to help me out.”
The pawn shop owner told Accurso that “some big guy” pawned it more than 30 years ago and it’s been sitting in a safe ever since. It’s a mystery as to how it made its way back to Kansas City from South Carolina, but one thing is certain…that ring is back where it belongs.
“Willie was thrilled to have it back. It all worked out so wonderful,” Accurso added. “The ring is safe at home.”
To listen to the entire interview, CLICK HERE.