Former New York Mets outfielder and World Series hero William Hayward “Mookie” Wilson has been named by the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter to receive the 2009 J. Walter Kennedy Award at this year’s MS Dinner of Champions Thursday, Nov. 12, in Old Greenwich.
Wilson was born and raised in South Carolina. He played college baseball at Spartanburg Methodist College in Spartanburg, S.C., and then went on to play at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. In 1996, Wilson earned his bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences from Mercy College in New York.
In 12 seasons as a Major League Baseball center fielder, Wilson had a .274 career batting average with 67 home runs, 438 runs batted in and 327 stolen bases in 1,403 games. Although he finished his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, Wilson is best known for his 10 seasons with the New York Mets, which included a World Series championship in 1986.
During Game Six of the 1986 World Series, Wilson hit a ground ball that went through Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs. The play is one of the most famous in Major League Baseball history and cinched the game for the Mets, who would capture the championship in the following game.
In 1996 the Mets inducted Wilson into the New York Mets’ Hall of Fame as Wilson held the Mets record for career stolen bases, with 281, and career triples, with 62, until Jose Reyes broke both records in 2008. He was also a coach with the Mets from 1997 to 2002 and managed the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones in 2005.
The J. Walter Kennedy Memorial Award is presented by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter in recognition of the extraordinary accomplishments of gifted athletes and their championship teams. These champion athletes also demonstrate what can be achieved when exceptional talent is combined with perseverance, courage and teamwork on the field.
“William Hayward ‘Mookie’ Wilson was an outstanding athlete, known for his positive attitude and quiet determination on and off the field,” said Lisa Gerrol, Connecticut Chapter president. “We are delighted to present Mookie with this year’s J. Walter Kennedy Award.”
The 31st MS Dinner of Champions will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Old Greenwich and will be hosted by Stamford native Bobby Valentine, who recently signed on with ESPN and Baseball Tonight. Joe Morris, former New York Giants running back, has also been named to receive the 2009 J. Walter Kennedy Award.
For more information or to purchase tickets to the 31st MS Dinner of Champions, please contact Kim Maloney at 800-FIGHT MS or e-mail kmaloney@ctfightsMS.org.