RENTON — On his way to work at 6:30 Thursday morning, Russell Wilson’s phone started ringing. He looked at the number and saw the area code was from Arlington, Texas.
He had no idea who it was.
On the other end was Jon Daniels, the general manager of the Texas Rangers, who had news: The Rangers had drafted Wilson during Thursday’s Rule 5 draft.
Wilson won’t play baseball, but the Rangers liked his leadership and his work ethic, and wanted him to at least come talk to their team. They paid $12,000 to acquire him from the Colorado Rockies.
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“I’m sure I’ll go down there for spring training and talk to some of their players and hang out some,” Wilson said. “It will be kind of a cool experience. But that’s down the road.”
Wilson also squashed any notion, however farfetched, of becoming a two-sport pro athlete. When asked if he thought about becoming the next multi-sport star like Bo Jackson, he said: “I’ve thought about it before. I’m not going to lie. But I’m just focused on football.”
The Rangers, however, left the door open for Wilson to join them if he ever had the itch to play baseball.
“We feel like if he ever decided he wanted to come back and play again, he’d be a guy that we’d want in our system with us and see him develop,” Rangers assistant general manager A.J. Preller told ESPN. “The biggest thing that intrigued us on Russell from afar is the makeup. I think the way he goes about his business, the professionalism, the competitor, (that’s) the message that we try to preach throughout our organization.
“At the end of the day, he obviously has a lot bigger things that he’s working on right now, and we don’t want to interrupt that aspect of it, but if at some point down the road he decides he wants to do the baseball thing again, we felt like it would be a positive to have him with us.”
According to a baseball source, the Mariners considered drafting Wilson in the Class AA portion of the Rule 5 Draft, but the Rangers beat them to it. Drafting Wilson then would have only cost $4,000.
It seemed like a foregone conclusion at one point that Wilson would play baseball.
He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round in 2007 but elected to be a two-sport athlete at North Carolina State instead.
“I was leaning toward (entering the draft),” Wilson told ESPN in 2008, “but a college education is something you’ll always have.”
The Colorado Rockies picked him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and he played two seasons of minor-league baseball while still at N.C. State. He hit .229 with eight home runs in his minor-league career.
Even people associated with Wilson at N.C. State thought he would play baseball after college because it was his best opportunity.
“That was a given,” said Annabelle Myers, media-relations director at N.C. State. “That’s what everybody thought. And Russell keeps his cards pretty close, but that was never his idea. He always intended to go to the NFL. Talking to him, that was never the case. Now I’m not saying he didn’t plan on doing both.”
Wilson, though, said he is only focused on playing for the Seahawks.
“There’s nothing better than playing the quarterback position and playing in front of 90,000 people,” he said. “That’s why I decided to play football. I love those moments.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org