Fairway, Kan. — In 1981, Royals great Willie Aikens headed to South Carolina to visit his mother.
While he was away, a thief broke into his apartment and stole his 1980 World Series ring. He thought he would never see it again.
On Christmas Eve, when he slipped the ring back on his finger for the first time in 33 years, it was an incredibly sweet feeling. He credits a generous friend and God’s blessing for his Christmas miracle.
“It’s one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten in my life. And it’s a little ironic that the Kansas City Royals are in the World Series this year and all of a sudden I get my World Series ring back in the same year after not seeing it for 33 years,” Aikens told KCTV5. “It should give hope to everybody when you are a believer that God allows good things to happen in your life. It just gives me the encouragement to continue on the path I’m on and don’t back to those foolish things I use to do.”
Drugs derailed Aikens’ life. In 1994, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges related to drug trafficking and distribution. He was released in 2008.
Since his release, Aikens has written a book and become a motivational speaker. The Royals also tapped their former slugger to serve as a minor league hitting coach.
“I like the life I live now and the blessings God bestows on me,” he said.
In early November, Aikens was slated to speak at a Gladstone church. The church’s pastor went door to door passing out fliers including at a pawn shop. A worker told the pastor that he had Aikens’ World Series ring.
When Aikens arrived for the speaking engagement, the pastor excitedly told him about the development.
“I kind of figured I would never see my ring again,” Aikens said. “I thought it was absolutely incredible. I knew it wasn’t coincidence. I knew I wasn’t lucky. It just didn’t happen. It was something supernatural. I knew I had been led to that church and that Pastor Murphy had been led across the street to my World Series ring.”
He returned to the pawn shop the next day where the owner said a drug dealer pawned it to him 20-plus years ago, and he had been keeping it in a safe deposit box.
The pawn shop owner offered to sell a ring to him for $2,500. Aikens didn’t have the money but said he would steadily save it up so he could buy his own stolen World Series ring back.
When he got back to his car, he collapsed in tears.
“I never asked for my ring. I never was looking for my ring because after 33 years you get to a point where you forget about it,” Aikens explained. “I had forgotten about my ring until Nov. 2 and then I was led to where my ring was at.”
He met a woman named Kim through a kennel where he had boarded his dog, Mickey, at times. The woman has a farm with numerous dogs, and she began to keep Mickey so he would have a more enjoyable time when Aiken is out of town.
After finding his ring in early November, Aiken told Kim that he was saving up to buy the ring back.
“‘Willie, you have to get that ring!'” he recalled Kim telling him. She even offered to loan him the $2,500 but he declined.
Before Kim’s mother died recently, she asked her daughter to do something nice for someone at the holidays. So Kim called Aiken and asked him to meet her at an area restaurant on Christmas Eve. She told him that she had a present for him.
When they got together, she slid across the table a gift box. Inside, was a plastic box.
“I felt something hard. I opened it and it’s my World Series ring. When I saw it, I’m totally shocked. I got emotional and the first thing I think is, ‘Kim, I know you didn’t pay $2,500 for the ring,'” Aikens recalled.
He admits he had thought about getting his ring back when former Royals player Willie Wilson got a World Series ring in 2013. He said during the World Series in October that he thought about his missing ring when he would hear his name mentioned.
He is grateful to have the ring back and to be back involved with the Royals.
“Baseball has been a big part of my life. After being in prison for 14 years and to have that part of my life restored is a tremendous blessing,” he said. “It just goes in line to having my World Series ring restored to me. The moral of the story is when we obey the commandments and when you walk in the ways of the Lord, it doesn’t really make any difference as to what had been taken out of your life.”