Interview with Andrew Wilson

Andy Wilson is a "Jack of All Trades" player with the Capital City Bombers. He is an undrafted free agent from Steton University. He began his career in 2003 in Kingsport of the Appalachian League. He was one of the leading hitters on the team and he earned a promotion to Brooklyn later that season. He was a key player for the Cyclones as the team advanced to the finals of the New York Penn League. Andy was gracious enough to grant an interview to NYfansonly recently.

NYF: How did your parents came to name you Andy?

Wilson: I think my Dad named me after the Andy Griffith Show. That's what my Dad told me.

NYF: Do you have any brothers and sisters?

Wilson: I have a brother, Neil who was drafted in the fifth round out of high school by the Rockies. He is playing for Asheville of the same league I play in. I have a younger sister, Sara who is attending the University of Florida.

NYF: Besides your brother Neil, are there any other athletes in your family?

Wilson: Sara used to play lacrosse.

NYF: Where are you from?

Wilson: Vero Beach, Florida.

NYF: Did you attend Dodger spring training games or watch the Vero Beach Dodgers while you were growing up?

Wilson: I attended both, but mostly I watched the major league spring training games.

NYF: Were the Dodgers your favorite team?

Wilson: No, I was a Cincinnati Reds fan.

NYF: Why Cincinnati?

Wilson: I was born in Ohio. Most of my family still lives in Ohio. I moved to Florida with my parents when I was five. My Dad roots for the Reds so I rooted for the Reds.

NYF: Who is your favorite major league player?

Wilson: Scott Rolen. He is a hard nosed player. I like the way he gets it done.

NYF: Why did you choose Stetson University?

Wilson: The year before I decided to go there they were coming on pretty good. They have a pretty good reputation in Florida. They were in the top 25 a few years before. And I only live two hours away. It made a lot of sense to go there and it was a nice fit for me.

NYF: Did you graduate?

Wilson: No, I still have four more classes to take. One more semester.

NYF: Do you have plans to go back?

Wilson: Yeah, I wanted to go back this fall. We are still working on that. We'll see if it is going to work out or not. It depends if the teachers are going to let me in late since we are gong to be in the playoffs here at Columbia. So we'll see.

NYF: What is your major?

Wilson: Sports Management.

NYF: Did you play in any NCAA sanctioned summer leagues while you were in college?

Wilson: Yeah, I played in the Cape Cod League twice.

NYF: Who did you play for?

Wilson: I played for Harwich Mariners my first year and my second year I played for the Falmouth Commodores. So I was up there twice. That was an awesome time. A good time.

NYF: Do you think that experience helped your pro game?

Wilson: Yeah, definitely. I mean just the wood bats. That was supposed to be the premiere competition in college baseball. It gets you ready. It definitely gets you ready to come out here and play pro ball.

NYF: Did you see the movie, "Summer Catch"?

Wilson: Yeah, I did. It was kind of similar in some ways, but I wouldn't say it was totally accurate.

NYF: No, of course not. What I thought was accurate was some of the baseball scenes. I mean the struggles the player was going through.

Wilson: That is definitely accurate.

NYF: I know you are an undrafted free agent. Did you expect to be drafted?

Wilson: Yeah I really did. I expected it a couple of times. I had a few untimely injuries in my baseball career that kind of stopped that. In my senior year in high school I expected to be drafted but had an injury that kept me out most of my senior year. I wasn't too bummed about it because I was going to go to Stetson anyway. And then, the same injury I had in high school, re-occurred my senior year at Stetson after I had a pretty good summer at the Cape. I definitely thought I was going to have a chance to be drafted. I guess I like to call it untimely. It kept me out of most of my senior year (at Stetson). That hurt me as far as the draft went.

NYF: What kind of injury was it?

Wilson: It was a back injury that goes way back in high school football. It was a twisted joint. It took awhile for it to get healed up and finally get it squared away.

NYF: You were disappointed that you did not get drafted, obviously. But I guess you understood with the injury.

Wilson: I was more disappointed in the injury. I knew it was going to severely affect my chances to be drafted. I know if I went out there and played a healthy senior year I think I would have got my shot and got drafted for sure. I'm just happy the Mets came along and gave me an opportunity.

NYF: Did you attend a tryout for the Mets?

Wilson: Yeah. I went down to St Lucie and I worked out for them. Basically, I think they wanted to make sure I was healthy enough to swing the bat. I only played maybe only two or three weeks at the end of my senior season. I think a lot of people were concerned whether I would be healthy enough to play.

NYF: How many tryouts did you attend?

Wilson: Just the one with the Mets.

NYF: So how did it feel when the Mets said, "Okay Andy, sign here."?

Wilson: It felt good. I was in a little bit of disbelief at first when it didn't happen for me in the draft. You play the game all your life, you put up good numbers your whole life and you expect that you are going to get a shot. It is almost disbelief when it happens. You realize that your injuries are going to take an affect on that. When I finally got a shot, it was now like I can do what I love to do.

NYF: How did you feel when you got word that you were being promoted to Brooklyn last season?

Wilson: I was pretty excited about it. I had only been in Kingsport, in pro ball, for ten days I think it was. I was hitting the ball pretty good. And they told me about midnight after one of our games, a long game, and I was kind of in awe, taken back by the whole thing. I didn't have any idea what Brooklyn would be like when you go from Kingsport to Brooklyn. To walk out there (in Brooklyn) and see all those fans (Brooklyn averaged 8,300 in 2003), I was in shock. I remember calling my parents and telling them that it is a whole different world up here (in Brooklyn).

NYF: How did it feel to come so close to winning the championship in Brooklyn and losing it in a heart breaker?

Wilson: That was kind of rough. We had beaten that team I think by my best guess, five of seven or five of eight times during the season. So we won the season series against them. And to go out there and lose in the championship was pretty bitter tasting. That wasn't too fun for us, but they played well.

NYF: What differences have you noticed between the Appalachian League, the New York Penn League, and the South Atlantic League?

Wilson: The pitching is a little sharper as you go up. You get a lot more pitches to hit in the Appy League. In the Penn League you have more pitchers who are out of college and they are more refined. And then here (the South Atlantic League), it goes up a little more. There is not much difference with the velocity of the pitches or in the quality of the pitches. It is how the pitchers use them. The game, of course, speeds up a little bit as you go. The guys get a step quicker.

NYF: Have you lost any close friends to trades or releases?

Wilson: Fortunately, I don't think I have lost any real close friends. A lot of the guys from the organization that you know from spring training, even though they are not on the same team that you break with out of spring training, it hurts when you hear that they get traded or released. The recent trades were kind of tough because I was good friends with Kazmir and Peterson. You make a lot of close friends when you go through a long season with these guys and it is tough to see them go. At least these guys (Kazmir and Peterson) are still playing. It stinks when a player is released.

NYF: Frank Dolson of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a book about minor league baseball. It is called, "Beating the Bushes." There is a quote in the book from Tug McGraw where he says, "Failing in minor league baseball is not failing. It is the pursuit of a dream that did not come true." Would you agree with that?

Wilson: That's a really good quote. Everybody out here has got the dream or they wouldn't be doing it. It's not the most glamorous of life styles. It's a lot of hard work. I don't think anyone is a failure if they don't make it. It's a tough thing to do and not everyone is going to get the chance. It's a lucky game too; you have to be at the right place at the right time a lot of the times. You just pray for your opportunity. I definitely would not consider anyone a failure for trying to get their shot.

NYF: Who do you call when things are going bad?

Wilson: Probably my Dad. He can put things in perspective for me real quick. He is a realist. He is pretty much straight to the point. He does not sugar coat anything for me. He will let you know how you stand. "You think things are going bad? You could be working 9-5 job somewhere." That makes you say, "Wow, I do love this game" when you are struggling a bit.

NYF: Mom and Dad have been supportive of your playing baseball? I guess they have to be since your brother is also playing.

Wilson: More than supportive, especially of me. It was an easier decision for my little brother because he was a fifth round draft choice out of high school.

NYF: You have been involved in two brawls since you have been playing pro ball. One was in Brooklyn last year and one in Capital City this year. How do you find yourself in the middle of these fights?

Wilson: (Laughs) That's a good question. I just find myself in the mix. You hate to see that happen a good friend and a teammate. (Andy was involved in a fight after an opposing pitcher threw behind Shawn Bowman after he (Wilson) had hit a homerun in the previous at bat.

NYF: How many positions have you played this year? Do you have a favorite position on the diamond?

Wilson: I have been in left, right, third, second, first, and I was working on catching in spring training. I am going to try to master them all or at least be average at them all. Third is my favorite (defensive) position. Batting is my most favorite.

NYF: Are you happy with your season?

Wilson: Yeah, I am pretty happy with it. Before the season started I said I wanted to have twenty homeruns. I have hit eighteen here and two while I was at St. Lucie so I got my twenty for the season. Obviously I want to push forward and continue that. I want to get the batting average up a few points if I could. Overall, I am happy. But most importantly I am most happy with the way the team played, especially in the first half. So I am having a real fun summer playing a bunch of positions and having fun with real good bunch of guys.

NYF: Anything in particular you are working on to improve your game?

Wilson: Just playing a variety of positions. I am just trying to get as good as I can at them. I am trying to play a utility role and hopefully move up that way.

NYF: Any advice you could give any young players?

Wilson: Don't let the pressure get to you. It is a fun game.

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