Monday, March 28, 2011
#544) PRESTON WILSON
Preston Wilson was selected by the New York Mets in the first round (ninth overall pick) of the free agent draft on June 1, 1992. The young outfielder had strong ties to the Mets even prior to that. He is the nephew/step-son of legendary Met, Mookie Wilson. Preston's natural father—Richard Wilson—is Mookie's brother, but he married Preston's mother and adopted him. "He's the only father I've ever known,"said Preston, who first wore uniform No.11 in honor of Mookie's No. 1 with the Mets.
"One thing we've always found time to do is talk about life, the developing personality and being conscious of what you want to be," Mookie said. "And I always told him baseball is fantasy land, that nothing is real, that it's here one day and it's gone. So you have to know who you are in order to deal with that."
Preston impressed many during major-league spring training camp in 1997. "His raw talent is bubbling over," noted teammate Bernard Gilkey. "He looks like a solid player already. I know it's going to take a little time, but he looks like the real thing. He's definitely baseball-minded. And he learned from a good teacher." Wilson showed his potential power at the plate in the minor-leagues during that season. The right-handed hitter slugged 30 home runs, drove in 95 runs and registered a .266 batting average splitting time between St. Lucie and Binghamton.
He finally got his opportunity to come to New York when the club placed Craig Paquette on the disabled list early in the 1998 campaign. Preston made his long awaited major-league debut at Shea Stadium on May 7, 1998. With his father, now the Mets' first base coach, watching the younger Wilson singled in his first at-bat. Mookie was there wearing his trademark grin to greet his son. Preston's mother, Rosa, viewed from the stands, but was visable on the television broadcast "jumping up and down doing that proud mother thing." Wilson would become the first New York Met to collect three hits in his debut during the 8-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Even so Preston said the fondest memory of the night was "probably stealing when he told me to stop halfway."
Wilson would follow up with three more hits the next day during his second game with the Mets. He doublied twice and scored three times in another New York win over the Cardinals. Preston suprisingly went hitless in his next 12 at-bats. Once an injured Edgardo Alfonzo was activated from the disabled list the decision was made to return Wilson to Triple-A Norfolk on May 19th. When asked what he would take from his first major-league experience, he said, "Just the opportunity and the fact that I got to face some of the best."
Days later, on May 22, 1998, the New York Mets traded the talented outfielder with just eight big-league games under his belt, along with Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall to the Florida Marlins in exchange for future Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza. Addressing the fans concerns over his father's reaction to the trade, Mets General Manager, Steve Phillips explained, "Mookie's been in the game a long time. He understands these things happen." Adding, "Preston would like to be a Met, but he wants to be a major leaguer more."
Preston enjoyed a fine ten-year baseball career that included a World Championship with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. A club that eliminated the Mets in a hard fought National League Championship Series that year.
Preston Wilson signed his card in the set for me through a private signing held by Tom Orr in Florida on March 12, 2011.