But they did not expect to be banned for life.
"Many of them were destroyed as cricketers," said University of West Indies Professor Hilary Beckles. "Their cricket careers came to an end."
Murray, once a star, is now drifting, unable to hold a job in Barbados. In the years after the tour, he eventually lost more than just his career.
His wife gave birth to their baby daughter in Australia, while Murray was playing in South Africa.
They faced being deported from Australia for his role in the rebel tours, and were unwelcome back in the Caribbean, too. They had a newborn, and nowhere to go.
"They didn't want me to return," Murray said. "Politics got into it."
When asked if his current situation resulted from his decision to go, Murray answered: "Most likely."
For Stephenson, the once-rising star, his cricketing past is behind him. He is now a golf instructor at a country club in Barbados.
But he still finds a way to connect to the sport he loved at the cricket and golf academy he started near his home.
There, a photo of his rebel team sits proudly on the shelf. It is not the memories of the tour he wants to forget, but what came after.
"Nobody looked out for us," Stephenson said.
For the players, their lives defined by this single moment in sport history, each day is a reminder of what they lost by going to South Africa.
But they gained something, too -- strong bonds forged on a tour condemned by the rest of their world, cherished by the participants.
And to this day, they hold strongly to the belief that being in South Africa in 1983 made a difference in disbanding apartheid, less than a decade after the West Indies players were there.
Gilkes wrote a seven-part series about the tour. In the last article, he stated the trip might have started with the players being viewed as mercenaries, but he saw them as missionaries "who converted white South Africans to accepting that blacks were their equals."
"I know I went there as a missionary," King said.
Murray agreed. "I don't see the mercenary part of it or whatever. We were just professional cricketers. You've got work to do."
"What do mercenaries do?" Stephenson asked. "They go and fight somebody else's cause.
"Well, yes I was a mercenary for black people's cause, because wherever I've been, I've been an ambassador for my country, my race and the game of cricket. So if that's being a mercenary, then yes I was."