January 04, 2012
Russell Wilson had a fantastic season at quarterback for the University of Wisconsin, leading the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl on Monday.
Yet it was also just last June that Wilson was the second baseman for the Asheville Tourists, the Single-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
As you might imagine, Wilson's performance at Wisconsin (in addition to the success he had in three seasons at North Carolina State) made his jersey a popular item among local fans and collectors.
But when the Tourists auctioned off player jerseys after last season, Wilson's jersey wasn't among them. According to the team's official Facebook page, the NCAA wouldn't allow Wilson's jersey to be auctioned off while he was still competing as an amateur athlete.
That's a curious stance, since Wilson presumably wouldn't be profiting from the auction's proceeds. And though people are interested in bidding for his baseball jersey because of his football success, there's no direct connection. Nothing like selling No. 16 jerseys and T-shirts on Wisconsin's campus, for example.
But now that Wilson's college football career has ended, the Tourists are free to auction his baseball jersey and are currently accepting bids.
Of course, if he were just a baseball player, Wilson's auction wouldn't be making any kind of news. Before leaving for Madison, Wilson was hitting .228 and still developing a feel for defense at second base. But the Rockies felt strongly enough about his athletic talents that they were willing to invest in their 2010 fourth-round pick. (Wilson had to return almost half of his $250,000 signing bonus to the Rockies when he chose football.)
While the team is apparently willing to bring Wilson back this spring if he wants to give baseball another try, the quarterback will likely see how his NFL draft prospects pan out first.