Wilson's dad coached him in baseball and life
Former Duquesne baseball coach taught valuable lessons
SEATTLE -- Home schooling worked well for Mariners shortstop Josh Wilson.
Not in a textbook sort of way, but in a baseball way. Until he was in his mid-teens, Wilson lived under the same roof as his coach.
Every Father's Day has special meaning to Wilson, who credits his father, Mike, for instilling a mindset that has taken him all the way to the top of his profession -- the Major Leagues.
"My dad has coached me since I was born, and still does," Josh said. "He was my coach in Little League and on the travel teams, up until I got into high school. Even now, we still work out during the offseason, five or six times a week.
"I always give him tons of credit. I would not be here without him."
The apple didn't fall far from the tree.
The senior Wilson has been involved with baseball in the Pittsburgh area most of his life, most recently as the head baseball coach at Duquesne University. He was active in the Greater Pittsburgh Federation Baseball League for more than 20 years as a player, head coach, and manager. His teams won league championship titles in 1978 and '79.
A 1972 graduate of the Umpire Development School in St. Petersburg, Fla., Mike Wilson officiated in the Gulf Coast and Citrus Leagues in South Florida for one year, before returning to the Pittsburgh area, and umpired at the college and high school level for 20 years.
"He played college baseball, and wanted to do something in the game when he was finished playing," Josh said. "He tried umpiring, but that was not for him. He was ready to have a family, and there was just too much travel, especially the higher you go."
Mike and Vicki Wilson's family eventually would include sons Matt and Josh, and daughter Mandy.
Born on March 26, 1981, the earliest recollection Josh has of playing organized baseball was when he was a 4-year-old, competing in a league of mostly 6-year-olds. The caliber of play was a step up from tee-ball -- in this league, coaches did the pitching.
"I think I did OK," Wilson smiled.
He played Little League as a 6-year-old, competing against 7- and 8-year-olds.
Indeed, home schooling was working out just fine in the Wilson household.
As Josh grew up in the Pittsburgh area under the tutelage of his dad -- a shortstop during his playing days -- Josh wanted to be where the action was. So he was a catcher first, pitcher second, and an occasional shortstop.
"Catcher was my favorite position on the field," Josh said. "It was the most fun for me."
Pitching was an added bonus, and he can recall tossing "at least one" no-hitter in high school. He has pitched in three Major League games -- for the Diamondbacks and Padres last season, and the Marlins in 2007.
Wilson became a full-time shortstop during this junior year at Mt. Lebanon High School, earning second-team All-USA Today as a senior, when he batted .600 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs.
Wilson was selected by the Marlins in the third round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft.
"My dad was the baseball coach at Duquesne and he recruited me as much as he could," Josh said. "He told me I wasn't going to go to school anywhere up north unless it was at Duquesne, but going south at a big school was all right. I got a scholarship offer from LSU."
Dad served as the "agent."
"He did most of the work," Josh said. "He told the [Marlins] what it would take to sign me, and they pretty much met what we were asking for."
Before embarking on a journey that would eventually take him to the Major Leagues, Josh received some valuable advice from his dad.
"He has always instilled the never-quit attitude and mentality in me," Josh said. "Always look forward, keep pushing, and don't let anyone out work you."
The nose-to-the-grindstone mentality enabled Josh to reach the big leagues for the first time in 2007 with the Marlins. Since then, he has also played for the Nationals, Rays, Diamondbacks, Padres, and the Mariners.
Until now, Mike has been able to see his son play in the big leagues four or five times a year.
It might be more this season as the baseball program was one of four sports, along with wrestling, golf, and swimming, dropped by Duquesne for financial reasons.
After 17 years and more than 300 victories, Mike Wilson coached his final game for Duquesne on May 22.
"I feel bad for my dad and the players," Josh said, "but you never know what doors may open."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.