Russell Wilson was picked by the Texas Rangers in today’s Rule V Draft from the Colorado Rockies. Yes, that Russell Wilson, the one currently quarterbacking the 11-2 Seattle Seahawks who are probably the best team in the NFC.
Although he’s obviously more well-known for his football skills, Wilson was no slouch on the diamond. The Orioles drafted him in the 41st Round out of high school in 2007, but he elected to attend NC State. He got drafted again in 2010, this time in the fourth round by the Rockies.
Now, by the quirks of the Rule 5 draft, he’s part of the Rangers system who selected him during the Triple A phase of the draft and now control his baseball rights. Wilson hasn’t played in the minors since 2011 when he hit .228 for Class A Asheville. It seems highly unlikely he’ll ever so much as suit up for anything other than a publicity shot in the Rangers system. Maybe Texas will print up some high quality Wilson shirseys to recoup the $12,000 it spent to take Wilson in the draft.
Ken Rosenthal offers this from Wilson’s agent:
Rodgers said, “Russell will want to take BP and ground balls. He loves baseball. This is 3d time he has been drafted.” Rule 5 pick for 12.5K—
Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2013
It still doesn’t look like Wilson is legit enough of a ballplayer to make a serious run at the Majors, which is unfortunate. It’s been far too long since the days of the two-sport athlete. Think back to the late 80s or early 90s when Bo Jackson was arguably the most well-known athlete in America when he split time between the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Royals. Who didn’t want both sides of the “Hit & Run” poster hanging in their bedroom?
Jackson is the most famous (and successful) example of the crossover star. Others like Deion Sanders dabbled in both, but his baseball career — aside from dumping water on Tim McCarver — was far overshadowed by his exploits on the gridiron. Atlanta was the hub for the two-sport athlete with Brian Jordan playing two years with the Falcons before moving on to a 14-year MLB career.
Earlier Danny Ainge played 211 games for the Toronto Blue Jays before moving on to a lengthy career in the NBA.
As said before, considering how well Wilson has acclimated to the the Seahawks this is probably nothing more than a PR stunt by the Rangers. That said, Wilson is pocketing roughly $400,000 this year for Seattle, although he’ll be in line for a big-time raise soon enough. He’s only a second-year player, but obviously there is much greater potential to make big bucks as a journeyman baseball player than there is even as a star NFL player, who also tend to have much shorter careers.
It would be fun to see the two-sport star come back to prominence, if only briefly for some cheap nostalgia.