Russell Wilson puts some extra mustard on first pitch at Mariners-Yankees game

Doug Farrar
June 8, 2013

It's a subject that has been debated in and around the Emerald City over the last few months. Who is Seattle's most transcendent sports star: Felix Hernandez, or Russell Wilson? The Seattle Mariners pitcher and Seattle Seahawks quarterback were able to hang out a bit on Friday evening, when Wilson threw out the first pitch at the M's-Yankees game.

Wilson got a little bit of heat on the ball with Hernandez as his catcher (though it was nowhere near the Safeco Field scoreboard reading of 98 MPH -- more like 75), and that should come as no surprise to those in the know about Wilson. Before he made a total commitment to football at Wisconsin in his senior season of 2011, Wilson was a second baseman at North Carolina State -- and was good enough to be selected in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB draft.

“It was awesome,” Wilson told about the experience. “This is my childhood right here. I used to play baseball all the time.”

He did, but when NC State football coach Tom O'Brien demanded that Wilson stick to football alone, the headstrong quarterback transferred out, used a rule that allowed graduating players to play for another Division I team immediately, and the rest was history -- at least from a football perspective.

Upon his return to the diamond, did Wilson have any thoughts of what might have been?

“Nah. 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.”

The Seahawks would agree. Selected 75th overall in the 2012 NFL draft because there seems to be some sort of bias against quarterbacks who stand a hair under 5-feet-11, Wilson went on to tie Peyton Manning's rookie record for touchdown passes with 26, and completely redefined Seattle's quarterback situation now and into the future. There's no telling whether he could have been the next Todd Helton, who was drafted by the Rockies in 1995, and was once ahead of Manning on the Tennessee quarterback depth chart.

The M's won the actual game, 4-1, as pitcher Jeremy Bonderman picked up his first victory since 2010.