Wilson, of course, is an established star, but he had the most difficult comeback of all—from 81 days in minimum-security confinement and more than six weeks under suspension. He didn't join his teammates until May 16, the day after his suspension was lifted. On the field, it has been as if he'd never missed a day. After 463 at bats, he was hitting .305 and leading the Royals in hits (141), runs (67), triples (9) and stolen bases (38).
Although it's the same old Willie Wilson on the field, off it, he's a changed man, cooperative with fans and press alike, a frequent speaker at young persons' gatherings, a lecturer against the evils of drugs. "I'm proud of what I've done this season, especially with what happened to me over the winter," he says. "I've tried to let the talent take over, not the mind. I knew I had to give the fans a good reason to forgive me. I knew also they wouldn't forget. But it's all up to me now. It's something I'm willing to live with. It's funny to say you're maturing when you're 29, but for some of us it takes a little longer, I guess."
They are scarcely the '27 Yankees or even the '80 Royals, these kids and comeback artists, and they're in a tough race with both the Twins and the Angels in a cockeyed division. It's now a question of whether their young players can take the heat. They have no doubts about that. "Pressure?" says Motley. "Why, I've been under pressure the last four years just trying to get where I am now. I think I know what pressure is."