Willie Mays Aikens: Safe at Home
Willie Mays Aikens: Safe at Home

Willie Mays Aikens: Safe at Home

By Gregory Jordan, With Willie Mays Aikens


272 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $18.95 (US $18.95) (CA $24.95)

ISBN 9781637272954

Rights: WOR

Triumph Books (Aug 2022)

Price: $18.95
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From World Series hero to prison inmate, Willie Mays Aikens' story is one of tragedy, belief, and the ultimate comeback.

Willie Mays Aikens was ascendant in the 1980s, establishing himself as one of the top sluggers in Major League Baseball as a member of the Kansas City Royals, alongside George Brett and Hal McRae. But a promising career quickly turned disastrous when he fell into drug abuse and was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison, a reflection of the era's harsh federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine and a criminal legal system intent on punishment rather than rehabilitation.

Safe at Home is an intimate portrait of a tortured player and a redemption story for the ages. Through extensive interviews with Alkens himself, his family, friends, teammates, cellmates, and dealers, Gregory Jordan has woven this comeback tale with compassion and unique intensity.

Readers will gain unvarnished insight into Aikens' impoverished childhood in a slow-to-desegregate South Carolina town, the rollicking Kansas City Royals' locker room, the go-go drug culture of America in the 80s, behind the prison gates of Leavenworth, and the grace and stability Aikens has found as a coach and mentor.


"Willie's story is an amazing one and one that we can all learn from. The fact that Willie was able to take the hard circumstances of his life and turn it into a compelling story and life lesson is wonderful. It is great to see him doing so much with his life after all of the adversity he has been through." —Cal Ripken, Jr., Baseball Hall of Famer

"Willie Aikens did a lot of bad things, and many bad things were done to him. But Greg Jordan's vivid and unsparing account of Aikens' tragic journey is heartfelt and, at last, even tender." —Frank Deford, author, Over Time: My Life as a Sports Writer

"Some people have the good—or, more often, bad—fortune of living lives that reveal the larger human story. Greg Jordan certainly found one such character in Willie Mays Aikens, and then held on tight for years, to unearth—through a kind of fierce, reportorial empathy—every astonishing twist and step and slide. The result: an amazing tapestry of dream, nightmare and redemption, cheers and tears, marked 'America.'" —Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of Confidence Men and A Hope in the Unseen

"Willie Mays Aikens: Safe at Home is far too complex to be regarded as just a baseball book. Gregory Jordan is a master storyteller, expertly weaving a narrative that is both fascinating and disturbing while ever mindful of the human spirit." —Tom Verducci, senior writer at Sports Illustrated

"Gregory Jordan has written a touching book about an old ballplayer who made mistakes but did not hide from them, and who paid a steep price but did not allow himself to become embittered. It is good to see that Willie Mays Aikens, who was given a name of baseball royalty, really did find his way home." —Joe Posnanski, senior writer at The Athletic and author, The Baseball 100

"[A] gritty, fascinating and disturbing pieced-together story an athletic career was taken down by drugs, but built back up by the forces of forgiveness."  —Tom Hoffarth's Los Angeles Daily News blog Farther Off the Wall

"In this age of slick pieties and specious beliefs, it's all too easy to be cynical about the redemptive power of faith. Greg Jordan's poignant story of Willie Mays Aikens' journey from stardom through self-destruction to recovery is a tale of justice and injustice, courage and perseverance and, finally, forgiveness and love." —Mark C. Taylor, Chair of the department of Religion, Columbia University

"The story is so gripping, and I became so attached to the people involved, that I hated for it to end."  —Royals Heritage blog 

Author Biography

Gregory Jordan has written about sports, movies, politics, and books for The New York Times, Crisis Magazine, and The Hill. Jordan worked with Mark Shriver on A Good Man, Mark’s biography of his father, Sargent Shriver, due out in June 2012. Jordan has also collaborated on books with former NFL player Joe Ehrmann and attorney Ron Shapiro. He lives in Sherwood, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay.