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Russell Wilson makes his one pitch count
Russell Wilson walked to the pitcher’s mound at Safeco Field on Friday evening like he knew what he was doing.
After delivering a fastball that split the heart of the plate – and with something on it – it was obvious that the Seahawks’ second-year quarterback did indeed know exactly what he was doing while throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Mariners’ game against the New York Yankees.
“It was awesome,” Wilson said while making his way off the field, still smiling from the experience. “This is my childhood right here. I used to play baseball all the time.”
Wilson played the sport well enough that he was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies and also played at North Carolina State – where he was the closer in addition to playing second base. In fact, the last time Wilson let one rip as a pitcher was during his junior year at NC State, just before he transferred to Wisconsin to complete his college football career.
Did Wilson experience any what-might-have-been twinges during his one-pitch stint?
“Nah,” he said. “God works things out in the right way, always. So being an NFL quarterback is very, very special. I love it. I love being the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks.”
And the Seahawks are loving the fact that they stole Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, because he has become a very, very special quarterback very, very quickly.
All he did during his rookie season was lead the Seahawks to the third-best regular-season record (11-5) in club history and the franchise’s first road playoff victory since 1983. He tied Peyton Manning’s rookie record by throwing 26 touchdown passes, and then added three more in two postseason games. Wilson also set a club record for rushing yards by a QB (354) and finished third in voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year behind Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck – two quarterbacks who were the first two picks overall in the draft.
And all of this has made Wilson a hot commodity at the ripe ol’ age of 24.
Just look at his Friday agenda: Took part in the Seahawks’ offseason workout in the morning; participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand re-opening of the Pro Shop at CenturyLink Field in the afternoon; then it was on to Safeco Field.
And talk about a-kid-in-a-candy-store experience. Wilson met Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. He took some cuts in the batting cage. He was given a Mariners jersey with his name and number (3) on the back. On his way to the field, he shook hands and had a brief conversation with Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Then came his moment on the mound. In a major league stadium. It was a first for Wilson that came with lasting memories that he got to share with his wife, Ashton; QB coach, Carl Smith; and thousands of new and already fans.
“I was a Yankees fan growing up,” he said. “I got drafted by the Rockies and now I guess the Mariners are my favorite. This was a blessing. I loved it.”