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100 days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Craig Wilson, baseball

Craig Wilson K-State baseball.jpg
Posted at 8:00 AM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 09:00:57-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Craig Wilson is among the best players in Kansas State baseball history.

He was a four-year starter, three-time All-Big Eight player and went on to play for the U.S. in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the first with baseball as an official medal sport.

Wilson, a middle infielder, was the first consensus All-American in Wildcats history as a senior in 1992. He also was the Big Eight Conference Player of the Year.

He hit .416, which was a school record at the time and still ranks fifth, during his K-State career, playing in more games than any other player in program history (250).

Wilson also ranks in the Wildcats’ all-time top five in hits (282), doubles (58), triples (15) and RBIs (176).

During the Olympics, Wilson played shortstop, third base and first base, slashing .200/.333/.300 with a double, two walks and two runs scored in five games.

“It was amazing,” Wilson said in an interview last year with K-State Sports Extra. “Barcelona is such a beautiful city and the accommodations of (the) Olympic Village were unbelievable. All the way around it was just awesome. Then, obviously being there with the Dream Team, with (Michael) Jordan and (Charles) Barkley and (Scottie) Pippen and all those guys, was a pretty cool experience as well. That's something that I'll never forget.”

The 1992 Olympic team — which finished fourth, losing to eventual champion Cuba in the semifinals and Japan in the bronze-medal game — also included former Royals outfielder Michael Tucker, along with Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Giambi, Charles Johnson, Jason Varitek, Jeffrey Hammonds, Phil Nevin and Darren Dreifort, among others.

He also played in the 1991 Pan American Games, leading the USA with a .414 average as they went 7-1 in pool play en route to a bronze-medal finish.

After his junior season at K-State, Wilson was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 23rd round, but elected to return to Manhattan.

He went No. 372 overall in the 13th round to the Chicago White Sox in the 1992 MLB June Amateur Draft after his senior season.

Wilson went three for four with three runs scored, two doubles, a home run and two RBIs in his MLB debut against the New York Yankees on Sept. 5, 1998, at Comiskey Park II in Chicago.

He appeared in 139 games from 1998-2000 with the White Sox, slashing .272/.328/.376 with 16 doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBIs.

Wilson, who spent his first eight pro seasons with Chicago, played for Class AAA Omaha, a Royals affiliate, in 2001 before moving on to brief minor-league stints for the Detroit Tigers and Yankees, retiring after the 2004 season with more than 500 career RBIs in the minor leagues.

Wilson, who became an IT professional in the Kansas City area, was inducted into the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020.

The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.

41 Action News and KSHB.com is your home of the Tokyo Olympics. Follow our coverage at kshb.com/sports/olympics and check out our complete list of 100 Kansas City-area Olympians as it is revealed.

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