But other than those career seasons (with an adjusted OPS about 105), Wilson's statistics never have stood out. Though he's never won a Gold Glove, Wilson's value presumably has come because of strong defense.
And yet, I call Wilson "America's Shortstop" because there was something comforting about him playing for the Pirates. No matter how many makeovers the club underwent this decade, there was Wilson, an oasis of competence at short, being a professional on a team that was often anything but.
Traded to the Mariners earlier this summer, Wilson is gone from Pittsburgh now, but it's clear that Wilson cherishes his time there. We know this because he sent an open letter to Pirates fans saying as much via the Post-Gazette on Sunday. A newspaper — how quaint!
In his letter, Wilson refers to his "26 double-play partners" and how the Pirates players never gave up, no matter how bad the record and place in the standings (average finish — 5.2th place). We also learn that everyone in his family is a "J. Wilson," including wife, Julie, and kids Jacob, Jaidyn and Jersi.
Here's an excerpt:
"There are no words for me to describe how much you, the fans of Pittsburgh, have meant to me and my family. I went through many ups and downs in my career there, and you were always there for me. At the stadium, in the restaurants, gas stations, you name it. I don't think there ever will be a moment like the last game of the 2008 season at PNC Park. The standing O I received that day will be the most cherished memory of my career. No matter how bad it was, the people in Pittsburgh cared for me and my family, and that is extremely special. [...]
"No matter where God leads me next, I will always be a Pittsburgher. Go Bucs!"
Jack Wilson has several attributes that make him an ordinary average guy, but character appears to be an exception.