William Dillon spent twenty-seven years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. At the time of his arrest, he was on the verge of signing a major league baseball contract with the Detroit Tigers. Dillon was released in November 2008 after DNA proved his innocence. Now, Dillon is starting to try and relive the dream of playing baseball.
Each fall, dozens of 40 and 50 something's gather in Ft. Myers for the Roy Hobbs Amateur World Series. Some are former pro baseball players, others like William Michael Dillon, have always had the dream.
"I'm looking to win every time I play," said Dillon. "I just want to play some ball and have some fun."
Dillon was on the verge of signing a major league contract in 1981. His career was cut short when he was convicted of murder and did 27 years for a crime DNA later proved he did not commit. This year, Dillon tried to recapture some of that dream.
"You know, I sit there and watch baseball and thinking what I could have done. What I, you know, I used to watch a long time and say you know I should have been there," said Dillon.
Slow in step, Dillon hoofed it to first base, going hitless in the series. But like his lost years behind bars, Bill Dillon has learned to take it all in stride. New evidence suggests there was some prosecutorial misconduct.
"The system works, it's just that people that are trying to make it work need to be in it. Not the people who are doing it for themselves," Dillon said with a bittersweet tone to his voice.
Sometimes angry, sometimes accepting, Bill Dillon found that for the first time in 30 years, he was with a group of people he could trust.
"Everybody is a little boy inside," he said. "I don't care and ball players are always ball players their whole life."
In addition to baseball, Bill Dillon is now playing in another arena. The state legislature.
For two years, he has been told 'no' when he sought compensation for his wrongful incarceration. He makes it clear he holds no grudges.
A claims bill has been filed for the 2012 legislative session. Bill Dillon is seeking a total of eight hundred and ten thousand dollars. That works out to thirty thousand dollars for each year he was in prison.