Russell Wilson isn’t quitting his day job any time soon. He’s the third youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, and he led the Seattle Seahawks to the first title in franchise history. But the 5-foot-11 former second baseman certainly has a viable backup option, should he opt for a career change.
While winning a Super Bowl was always a goal of Wilson’s, it wasn’t the only one he had in mind. Wilson, you see, comes from a long line of two-sport athletes, and, in addition to calling himself a pro football quarterback, he can also call himself a professional baseball player. It may not have proved to be as successful as his football career so far, but here’s a few things you should know about Russel ‘The Muscle’ Wilson’s baseball career.
1. Genetics Tie Him To Multi-Sport Athletes
Wilson was known in high school for his athletic ability both on the football field and on the diamond. After arriving at North Carolina State University, it didn’t take others too long to learn of his two-sport prowess. But for the Wilson family, this was absolutely nothing new.
Wilson’s grandfather, Harrison B. Wilson Jr., spent time on the basketball court in addition to the gridiron while enrolled at Kentucky State. Wilson’s father, Harrison B. Wilson III, played Ivy League baseball and football at Dartmouth, and even tried out for the San Diego Chargers preseason squad in 1980, as a wide receiver. In Similar fashion, Wilson’s brother Harry was a recognized receiver and outfielder for the University of Richmond football and baseball teams.
After college, Wilson had every intention of playing pro football and baseball, telling the Rockies he planned to be, “if not the next Bo Jackson, maybe a less-amplified Deion Sanders.”
2. Wilson Drafted By Three Big League Teams
Wilson was first drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. They selected him with the 5th pick of the 41st round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft from Collegiate HS in Richmond, Va. The timing, however, wasn’t right for Wilson. “I knew my whole life I wanted to play two sports in college,” he said in a 2008 ESPN interview, citing his family’s athletic history.
Wilson was drafted a second time in 2010 by the Colorado Rockies. They selected him in the 4th round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft from North Carolina State University. Wilson would play two seasons in the Colorado single-A farm system for the Tri-City Dust Devils and the Asheville Tourists before deciding to focus solely on football.
Wilson’s third draft selection came in December 2013, this time by the Texas Rangers — rivals of Seattle’s beloved Mariners. Technically still a member of the Rockies organization, Wilson was left unprotected in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft.
While no official deal was in place, the Rangers noted that the selection was a look at the future: “If at some point down the road he decides he wants to do baseball again, we felt like it would be a positive to have him with us.” His work ethic and athleticism are what really stood out, according to the team and Rangers beat writer Jeff Wilson.
3. Wilson Played 2nd Base
While with the Rockies, Wilson played exclusively at 2B, tallying 31 games at the position in 2010 and another 55 in 2011. He managed a respectable fielding percentage of .983 over 86 games in two seasons.
Year Tm Aff G Ch PO A E Fld% 2010 Tri-City COL 2B 31 142 51 90 1 .993 2011 Asheville COL 2B 55 273 112 155 6 .978 2 Seasons 86 415 163 245 7 .983
Stat box provided by Baseball-Reference.com
While second base seemed to be Wilson’s future, his freak athleticism was evident everywhere on the field. Rangers scout, Kris Kemp, observed of Wilson, “he’s laying out in center field and jumping up against the wall to catch balls… he’s sprinting to shortstop…and scooping up balls there.” This same athleticism was duly noted at the collegiate level, as well, where Wilson played third base, outfield and, of course, second base for NC State.
4. Spring Training w/ The Rangers
After being drafted by the Rangers, Russell Wilson was invited to join the team at Spring Training – an invitation he excitedly accepted.
While there, Wilson participated in footwork and fielding drills, but did not participate in batting practice. Wilson also spoke to the team and signed autographs for fans. While the appearance was partly a publicity move, Wilson took the day’s drills and activities seriously, even impressing then-manager Ron Washington. Washington told the Star-Telegram that Wilson “Looked real good. Looked sharp. Baseball is definitely in him.”
The Sporting News recently reported, Wilson to visit Rangers Spring Training in late March.
5. Rangers Jersey A Top Seller
In addition to joining the team for Spring Training, Wilson also received his own Texas Rangers jersey. Wilson was given No. 3 (his football number) and the jersey was also sold online for fans. Within a week, Fanatics.com reported that Wilson’s Rangers jersey was their top selling MLB jersey. The jersey and t-shirts are still available at MLB’s online shop.
A jersey wasn’t all Wilson got, either. Topps Trading Cards got in on the action, too, and created a Russell Wilson baseball card.
Could Russell Wilson be the next Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders? In the humble opinion of Big Game James, and after carefully considering the evidence, the answer is a resounding YES. It’ll only be a matter of time before Wilson takes the Bigs by storm.