DENVER — Russell Wilson learned his dedication to practice by fielding ground balls hit by his father when he was a child. He dreamed of reaching the big leagues. The Colorado Rockies drafted him in the fourth round in 2010 as a slick-fielding, strong-armed second baseman.
After two years in the minor leagues, he hit it off with his teammates, but struggled to hit professional pitching. Wilson switched his focus to football, and never looked back after winning the starting job with the Seattle Seahawks as a rookie.
Nine pro bowls and one of the biggest trades in NFL history later, Wilson returns to Coors Field on Friday, once his laser-focused destination. Wilson will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day before the Rockies face the Los Angeles Dodgers in front of a sellout crowd.
Rockies General Manager Bill Schmidt drafted Wilson as the scouting director, creating an open door for Wilson to return. Wilson is well-versed in the art of the first pitch.
He has received the honor multiple times. He threw out the first pitch on June 7, 2013 before a Mariners-Yankees game and returned to do it again for the Mariners home opener on April 8, 2014. He also took the mound on July 26, 2017 before a Mariners-Red Sox contest.
While Wilson clearly made the right choice with football, he never lost his love for the diamond. In 315 at-bats covering 93 games, Wilson hit .229 with five homers and 26 RBIs in two seasons of Class-A ball with the Rockies.
The Texas Ranger selected Wilson from the Rockies in the Triple-A portion of baseball's winter meeting draft on Dec. 12, 2013. He spent time at spring training working out with the Rangers, and later did the same thing with the New York Yankees.
Friday, he will be back on the baseball field showing off the arm that has Broncos Country believing the six-year playoff drought will end this season.