07/12/2004 4:25 PM ET
Wilson humbled to be All-Star
Bucs shortstop credits teammates, coaches for success
By Brian Hutchinson / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Jack Wilson has known for a couple of weeks that he was an All-Star, but today he's surrounded by all the best that baseball has to offer. Asked how it feels to be an All-Star, the 26-year-old Pirates shortstop simply smiled and said "out of place."
|Jack Wilson finished fourth among National Leaguers in the player ballot. (Daria Debuono/MLB.com)
Wilson's rise to All-Star status didn't happen overnight. A .300 hitter in the minor leagues, it took Wilson three years in the Majors to get back to where he was hitting in the minors.
"I was thinking to myself this offseason," said Wilson, "looking at the back of my baseball card, 'What happened? What is so different?' And I realized there really wasn't much different. I was probably giving the pitchers too much credit. I really just wanted to go out there, relax and have fun more than I've had in any other season."
Always solid with the leather, the Pirates' lone representative at the Midsummer Classic credits hitting coach Gerald Perry and catcher Jason Kendall with helping him find his stroke.
"Gerald Perry said to me in the offseason, 'You have the hands to be a .300 hitter; you've just got to believe in yourself," Wilson said. "Go up to the plate and stop thinking -- just hit."
After getting a handle on the mental approach of hitting in the big leagues, Wilson began to watch and learn from his peers with confidence in his hitting ability.
"Watching Jason Kendall the past three or four years has been great for me," said Wilson. "He uses the whole field, and that's been my problem the past few years because I used to pull the ball a lot. They say hitting is contagious."
The results thus far have been impressive. Wilson's .322 batting average, 118 hits and 37 extra-base hits were tops among NL shortstops entering the All-Star break. Still, Wilson is humbled by the players he'll be sharing a dugout with on Tuesday night.
"You feel like a rookie again. You go to your locker and hopefully someone says 'Hi.'"
Wilson, one of three NL shortstops, isn't concerned about playing time in Tuesday's game. The most important thing to him is to simply enjoy the experience.
"I'm like a fan right now. I want to get all these guys' autographs."
Brian Hutchinson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.