Russell Wilson’s stable of A-list celebrity buddies seemingly has no bounds.
Turns out, the Super Bowl-champion quarterback has a personal link to this year’s World Series title, too — specifically to the Series’ most valuable player.
“So, funny story about Madison Bumgarner,” the Seahawks quarterback said before practice Thursday of the San Francisco Giants’ ace left-hander, who mowed down the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 the night before. “We were roommates at the East Coast Showcase coming out of high school. Top 100 players. We were roommates. And also at the Area Code Games, as well.”
This was in 2006. The annual Area Code Games is a showcase for the nation’s elite high school baseball players held in Long Beach, California. The East Coast Showcase is an invitation-only summer tournament in Wilmington, North Carolina, for the top rising high school senior baseball players.
Wilson was about to graduate from The Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia., a shortstop with a .467 batting average and a quarterback with 3,009 yards and 34 touchdowns. The Baltimore Orioles drafted Wilson in the 41th round of baseball’s draft out of high school. North Carolina State offered him football and baseball scholarships. Wilson chose the football deal — yet went on to play three seasons of baseball at N.C. State.
In that time the Colorado Rockies drafted Wilson in the fourth round in 2010. That summer Wilson played infield for the Tri-City Dust Devils in Pasco, Washington, in the Northwest League, then returned to N.C. State for his junior season of football.
After he graduated from N.C. State with one season of football eligibility remaining, Wilson played one more season of professional baseball for the Class-A Asheville Tourists in North Carolina. He gave up baseball in June 2011 after hitting .229 with 118 strikeouts in 315 at-bats, then played his fifth-year senior season of football at Wisconsin. Wilson quarterbacked the Badgers to the 2012 Rose Bowl. The Seahawks drafted him a few months later in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, so that was the end of Wilson’s baseball career — aside from a one-day visit to the Texas Rangers’ spring training this year as a uniformed “guest.”
In 2006 Bumgarner was heading into his senior year at South Caldwell High School in Lenoir, North Carolina. He was already a fire-balling left-hander. The Giants drafted him in the first round, so that’s the route he took straight into baseball — and now World Series immortality.
Wilson and Bumgarner were both on the Rawlings/Perfect Game Preseason Atlantic Region All High School senior first team in 2007.
“I’ve gotten to know him over the last few years. I haven’t gotten in touch with him lately,” Wilson said. “So, yeah, I used to play with him. We were on the same team. I think we won it all that Showcase. It was a good experience. Big guy. He could really throw it. Great athlete. I’m excited for him. He’s a true competitor.
“I used to play against Buster Posey (the Giants’ catcher, the 2012 National League MVP and Wilson’s former Atlantic Coast Conference rival at Florida State), too. To watch those two guys, Buster Posey catching and Madison Bumgarner throwing, it’s pretty special.”
Asked if Bumgarner threw then the way he hummed Wednesday night to win the World Series and cap one of the most impressive October performances in Major League Baseball history, Wilson said: “Oh, yeah. He could throw 96. He had a great arm. Had a lot of pitches. Could do a lot of things. He could hit pretty well, too, if I recall. He’s a force out there pitching.
“We were on the same team. I’m glad I didn’t have to hit off him.”
Last month, Wilson partnered with retiring New York Yankees star Derek Jeter on a new athletes’ website for which Seattle’s quarterback is a senior editor. And Wilson enlisted the help of Jeter and pop star Justin Timberlake to launch his “Pass the Peace” initiative against domestic violence in our country.
As for the third sport Wilson played growing up, basketball, he was a point guard — the job coach Pete Carroll says he always wants Wilson to be with the Seahawks. Wilson often says he wants to play like Tony Parker, the point guard of the NBA-champion San Antonio Spurs, wanting to constantly feed all his teammates for great opportunities with the ball.
“I wasn’t the best. I was a great passer, ironically,” Wilson said of his basketball days growing up in Virginia. “My sister could beat me, that’s for sure.
“Don’t judge me. She can beat you, too.”
Yes, she can. This spring, Anna Wilson was among 12 players selected to the United States’ 2014 Women’s U-17 World Championship team.
WALTER JONES INTO “RING OF HONOR”
The Seahawks announced former left tackle and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Walter Jones will enter the team’s Ring of Honor Sunday during halftime of the game against the Raiders. The ceremony will include the unveiling of Jones’ name on the suite-level facade of CenturyLink Field.
Team executives select the Ring of Honor members “based on their contributions to the success and history of the franchise on and off the field,” the team says.
Jones is the 11th member of the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor, joining Steve Largent, Jim Zorn, Dave Brown, Pete Gross, Curt Warner, Jacob Green, Kenny Easley, Dave Krieg, Chuck Knox and Cortez Kennedy.
SHERMAN, BENNETT APPARENTLY REST
Cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive end Michael Bennett were Thursday’s additions to the injury report. Neither practiced. Sherman is listed as having a back injury, which is what the team listed for him last season when he sometimes took in-season rest days from practice. Sherman has yet to miss a game in his 31/2 NFL seasons. Bennett, listed with a toe injury, also seems like rest. He had that same designation while taking off last Thursday, then played 49 of the Seahawks’ 60 snaps on defense at Carolina.
There is some concern with Stephen Schilling out Thursday and Max Unger still limited by his sprained foot. There is no apparent Plan C at center for the Oakland game, so the hope is Unger will be able to play for the first time since Oct. 6 when he got hurt in the Washington game. If not, Schilling needs to heal quickly.
Tharold Simon’s knee injury could become a concern for Sunday, especially if Byron Maxwell does not make it back from the calf injury that has caused him to miss the last two games. Maxwell still hasn’t made it back to practice. Marcus Burley has played some at that right cornerback spot, but he’s the primary nickel back until Jeremy Lane comes off the injured reserve list with a designation to return for next week’s game against the New York Giants.