KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The good thing about baseball is even when you strike out, there will be another at bat.
Willie Mays Aikens struck out more than 400 times in the majors. Big is how he lived life.
“As a baseball player, the highest of highs was when I hit those multiple homer games in the World Series. I hit two in game one and two in game four,” Aikens said.
Aikens hit big and missed big, and he made a big mistake that would stick with him the rest of his life.
“I made bad choices off the baseball field," he said.
Aikens used and later sold drugs. Eventually he became the target of a Kansas City police investigation.
Once officers had enough evidence, Aikens says they arrested him.
“They kicked my door in and arrested me," he said.
Aikens was sentenced to nearly 21 years in prison. He served 14.
KSHB 41 News anchor Kevin Holmes asked Aikens how he think his career as a baseball player would have played out had he not been arrested.
“You know Kevin, I think about that a lot man," he said.
What happened once Aikens was released from prison was the perfect change up.
After working in construction, the guy with the big-league bat became a coach for the Royals.
Through this role, he teaches young players how to proceed on the base path and the path of life.
Aikens’ story has become quite the comeback story.
So much so, Amin Joseph hopes to knock it out the park on the big screen.
The actor is playing Aikens in a movie called “The Royal.”
“This is about redemption,” Joseph said. “If anything, I’d like the audience to take from it. For fathers that have been separated from their children, there’s still an opportunity to make it right.”
In these later innings in life, Aikens has become a mentor, a role model and has come from behind to win in the game of life.
“Being incarcerated, drug addiction, deadbeat dad and things like that,” Aikens said. “[That was me] Right to the tee.”
When Aikens was sentenced to prison, his daughters were five and six-years-old. When he was released, they were 19 and 20.
The first man to ever hit two home runs in two World Series games the same year now has a new crowning achievement.
“I’m a grandfather,” Aikens said. “A couple of weeks ago, it’s a personal thing for me, but my second oldest daughter Gretchen Nicole Aikens, she kissed me for the first-time man. And it just broke my heart.”
Aikens is now a success within the Royals organization and with his family.
Joseph hopes that too shines bright on the big screen.
“And that’s what Willie dedicated his life to when he came out of prison,” Joseph said. “It was that he would dedicate his life to his family instead of the drugs that wrecked his life.”
Aikens is living proof there will still be another at bat, it’s just up to you to swing for the fences.
Aikens currently works for the Kansas City Royals as part of their leadership development team.
The movie, “The Royal” will be in theaters July 15, 2022.