When I was working in San Francisco, I once did a fun story on the oddity of having two prominent sports figures in town both named Roger Craig. The manager by that name had just led the Giants into the World Series, while the running back had three Super Bowl rings with the 49ers. Each was an admirer of the other, and they told great stories about receiving each other’s mail, even getting a paycheck meant for the other, if I recall.
It struck me recently that Seattle has a similar situation, although not quite at such a lofty scale, with their pro pair of Josh Wilsons. The Mariners’ shortstop by that name is the ultimate journeyman, having played for Arizona, San Diego and the Mariners already this season, on top of stints with Florida, Washington and Tampa Bay. A third-round pick by Florida in 1999, he’s also been in the Pittsburgh, Colorado and Boston organizations.
The Seahawks’ defensive back by that name is in the team’s cornerback rotation after being drafted by Seattle in the second round out of Maryland in 2007. He’s listed as No. 1 on the depth chart at left corner while Marcus Trufant is out with an injury.
Josh Wilson the Mariner is 28 years old (born March 26, 1981 in Pittsburgh, Penn), 6-feet-0, 175 pounds. He wears No. 16.
Josh Wilson the Seahawk is 24 years old (born March 11, 1985 in Houston, Texas), 5-feet-9, 192 pounds. He wears No. 26.
Josh Wilson the Mariner has 94 hits in his three MLB seasons. Josh Wilson the Seahawk has 76 hits (tackles) in his two NFL seasons (including the one pictured above that felled Brett Favre).
Josh Wilson the Mariner’s claim to fame is pitching for three different teams in his career, including two mound stints this year. Josh Wilson the Seahawk’s claim to fame is an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Rams in Week 12 of 2007. Last year, he ran back an interception 75 yards for a TD against the 49ers. His father, Tim Wilson, played in the NFL as the blocking back for Earl Campbell with the Houston Oilers.
I asked Josh Wilson the Mariner the other day if he had heard of Josh Wilson the Seahawk.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I know they have a guy over there. A couple of my buddies, sports fans, informed me of it. I remember seeing his name when he got over there (to the Seahawks), that they had a Josh Wilson. It’s nice to know I’ve got a namesake out there doing some good stuff in the sports world.”
So far, the two haven’t met. Josh the M has not gotten any mail aimed for Josh the S, nor any of his paychecks. Considering that Josh the M is no doubt making the MLB minimum salary ($400,000), while Josh the S is listed by USA Today as having earned $914,160 last year, the baseballer would get the better of that exchange.
Josh Wilson the Mariner said he never played any organized football. “I was more just a baseball guy.”
He hopes to have finally found a home in Seattle, having shown some pop in his bat during extended playing time recently while Jack Wilson (no relation; nor is either Josh Wilson any relation to Jack Wilson, mayor of Prescott, Ariz.) was injured. Mariner manager Don Wakamatsu said recently that he’s mulled over giving Josh Wilson a chance to pitch this year so he can become the first player in history to pitch for three teams in one season. Wakamatsu bypassed a golden opportunity last Monday when the Angels pulled ahead 10-0.
“If the opportunity arises, or it’s late in the season and they want to throw me out there, I’d absolutely be open to it,” Josh Wilson said. “But any time you’re losing a game like that and there’s talk of a position player going in, those are the times it’s not really fun.”
Boston’s Nick Green did the fraternity proud last week by working two scoreless innings in the Red Sox’s 9-5 loss to the White Sox.
“I tell you, those shortstops get on the mound, they threw pretty good,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he threw nothing but fastballs in his first two outings on the mound. On June 8, 2007, while with the Rays, he pitched one scoreless inning in a 14-8 loss to the Marlins, giving up one hit and one walk. On May 11, 2009, while with Arizona, he worked another scoreless inning, this time against Cincinnati, in a 13-5 Diamondbacks’ loss, giving up no hits and one walk.
But on June 7, having moved from Arizona to San Diego via waiver claim — and pitching against the Diamondbacks — things got a little more serious for Wilson. With the Padres out of pitchers, manager Bud Black turned to Wilson in the 18th inning of a 6-6 tie.
“I was throwing fastballs, curve balls and changeups,” Wilson said. “I was throwing everything at ’em. We had to try to win. i was doing whatever we could.”
Wilson gave up a leadoff single to Felipe Lopez, who moved up on a sacrifice. Wilson walked the next batter, but got Stephen Drew on a popup to the catcher for the second out. That brought up slugger Mark Reynolds. Wilson actually got ahead of Reynolds 0-2, then went to a full count before Reynolds hit a three-run homer, hanging a tough loss on Wilson.
Considering that Reynolds now has 40 homers, ”It wasn’t a bad guy to give it up do,” Josh Wilson said.
Perhaps the Seahawks’ Josh Wilson will show similar versatility this season by playing quarterback.
(Mariners’ Josh Wilson photo by Associated Press; Seahawks’ Josh Wilson photo by Jim Bates of the Seattle Times).