Results tagged ‘ Brian Wilson ’

Presidents With The Grizzlies – or at least Presidential last names

Today is Presidents’ Day, or officially known as Washington’s Birthday. For some, it’s that second Monday they have off in February. In reality, though, it is a day that honors the 44 Presidents of the United States. The day was first celebrated as a federal holiday on the birthday of George Washington in the 1880s.

Thank the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill from 1968, though, for the Monday off. The bill moved a number of federal holidays to Mondays so workers had some long weekends.

To help get you through your day off – and in honor Presidents’ Day – here is a list of former Fresno Grizzlies who share a surname with past POTUS (or is it POTUSi?).

 

Tyler

Josh Tyler (1998, 2000-01)

Shares name with the 10th US President, John Tyler (1841-45)

Tyler was a utility player for the Grizzlies during their inaugural season in 1998 and again later in 2000 and 2001. Tyler even made three appearances for the Grizzlies as pitcher over the 2000 and 2001 seasons. He allowed three runs over four innings in the three games. In fact, during the 2000 season, Tyler played every position except shortstop. His last professional season was with Fresno in 2001. He batted .287 in 77 games with the Grizzlies in 2001, but he carried a .404 batting average in August, his final month in pro baseball.

John Tyler could be viewed as utility player for the United States government. Tyler manned many different positions, including state legislator, governor, US representative, US Senator, Vice President, and then, of course, President. Tyler was the first person to succeed as President of the United States due to the death of the incumbent as William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia while in office.

 

Johnson

Brian Johnson (1998)

Mike Johnson (2003)

Share name with 17th US President Andrew Johnson (1865-69) and 36th US President Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69).

Two Presidents had the last names Johnson as did two former Grizzlies. First up is Brian Johnson. The catcher appeared in five games with Fresno on MLB Rehab. He had two home runs in his short time with the Grizzlies, including one of his homers being a part of back-to-back-to-back home runs to begin the fourth inning on August 4th. Among Giants fans (and Dodgers fans for that matter), Brian Johnson is remembered for this.

Mike Johnson spent parts of five seasons in the Majors (1997-2001) with the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 17th round of the 1993 Draft. The native of Edmonton spent all of the 2003 season with Fresno, making 30 appearances (including four starts) and going 4-3 with a 3.72 ERA. Mike Johnson closed out his career pitching in Korea and independent leagues, including his hometown club Edmonton in 2007, 2009, and 2010.

Andrew and Lyndon were Presidential relievers as both took over as President due to their predecessors’ assassinations.

Lyndon has a more direct tie to the game of baseball: he played in high school.

 

Wilson

Brian Wilson (2005-07)

Shares name with Woodrow Wilson, 28th President (1913-21)

Brian Wilson’s time with the Grizzlies was pre-beard; some fans might not be able to recognize the tenure in more ways than one. Wilson was a standard arm out of the bullpen in his first season with Fresno in 2005, making nine appearances and going 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA and no saves. In 2006 and 2007, however, Wilson’s role as a closer began to take shape as he saved 18 games for the Grizzlies over the two seasons.

Woodrow Wilson is recognized for being a leader of the Progressive Movement, helping see legislation pass such as Federal Reserve Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, Federal Farm Loan Act, and an income tax. While Brian isn’t necessarily a leader in baseball’s progressivism, his actions are seen as newer to the traditional ways of baseball (i.e. The Beard).

 

Ford

Darren Ford (2011)

Shares name with Gerald Ford, 38th President (1974-77)

These two Fords can be known for one thing: quickness. Darren was 10-for-10 in stolen base opportunities with the Grizzlies in 2011. He primarily served as pinch runner for the Giants in 2010 and 2011 due to his speed on the base paths.

Gerald’s time in office can be described as quick in that his 895-day presidency is the shortest of all US Presidents who did not die in office.

The two also share the bond of football. Gerald was star linebacker and center for the University of Michigan’s national championship teams in 1932 and 1933. Darren, meanwhile, was a standout in football as well as baseball – and track – at Vineland High School. Darren received his fair share of college letters for football, baseball, and track.

 

Bush

Evan Bush (2006)

Shares name with George H.W. Bush, 41st President (1989-93) and George W. Bush, 43rd President (2001-09).

The father-and-son presidential duo has direct ties to baseball. George H.W. played for the Yale baseball team and participated in the first two College World Series. George W. was part owner of the Texas Rangers, serving as managing general partner for five years.

Evan Bush was one-and-done when he came to his baseball career. After being drafted by the Giants in 2006 out of Alabama, Bush played in 32 games with Short-Season Salem-Keizer. He played in three games for the Grizzlies that same season as a late-season replacement while other Grizzlies were summoned to San Francisco for a round of September call-ups.

Evan Bush quit pro baseball after one season in 2006. Since, he has been a collegiate coach, earning top junior college and top assistant coach honors from the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association. He is currently an assistant baseball coach at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Prior to UAH, Evan coached for three seasons at Bevill State Community College in Fayette, Alabama.

Grizzlies Alumni Report: Sergio Romo


Who: Sergio Romo
When He Was a Grizzly: Sergio Romo made three appearances for the Grizzlies in the late summer of 2008. He made three more appearances in a short one week stint with the Grizzlies in 2009.

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Fresno Highlights:
     In Sergio’s six games as a Grizzly, he pitched nine innings from the bullpen and allowed no earned runs.
     Sergio struck out 10 batters while allowing only two free passes.
     Sergio made his triumphant return to Fresno with the World Champions Trophy in February 2011 as a special guest speaker for the Hot Stove Gala.
Where He Went From There: After making his Major League debut for the San Francisco Giants on June 26th, 2008, Sergio appeared in Fresno before being returned to the Major Leagues on August 16th. In his debut against the Cleveland Indians, Sergio entered the game in relief and struck out two batters in one inning pitched on the road. The following season, Sergio recorded his first Major League save on July 7th at AT&T Park in San Francisco against the Florida Marlins, striking out the final two batters to seal a 3-0 victory for the Giants.
Where He is Now: In 2010, Sergio mostly played the role of setup man for closer Brian Wilson. It was his biggest year as a Major Leaguer so far, as he recorded a 5-3 record with a 2.18 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched. Sergio struggled in the National League Division Series, giving up three runs in 0.2 innings pitched, perhaps contributing to the “torture” of watching Giants baseball. However, Sergio was able to rebound in the National League Championship Series and World Series, where he tossed three scoreless innings, helping the Giants in their championship quest.
Career Highlights:
     In his short career, Sergio has a 13-6 record with a 2.63 ERA
     Sergio contributed to one of the most exciting home wins in Giants history when he setup Brian Wilson for the save against the Padres in the final regular season game to clinch the division. He sat down both batters that he faced, striking out one of them.
     In 2010, Sergio had a 1.47 ERA in eighth innings, solidifying his role as the setup man for the Giants.

Grizzlies Alumni Report: Brian Wilson


Who: Brian Wilson nicknamed “B-Weezy”, friend/neighbor of “The Machine“.

When He Was a Grizzly: Wilson pitched on the Grizzlies for three years, where he made 64 closing appearances.

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Fresno Highlights:
    ? Had a total of 80 strikeouts in 73.2 innings pitched.
    ? Logged an ERA of 2.10 in 2007 in 31 games.
    ? Tallied 18 total saves with the Grizzlies.
    ? Allowed only two home runs in 73.2 innings pitched over three seasons.
Where He Went From Here: In 2006, Wilson made his Major League debut with the Giants on April 23rd, when he threw 2.0 scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Where He is Now: 2010 marked Wilson’s fourth year in the majors. His fearless ball-throwing skills helped carry the Giants to their first World Series Championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco in ’58. Also, Wilson is the keeper of the 2010 World Series game-winning baseball, which he stores in a Halloween candy jar in his kitchen. He is the face of the “Fear the Beard” slogan and is known for his bright orange cleats, that he began sporting after the All-Star game in 2010.
Career Highlights:
    ? In 2008, Brian became one of three pitchers in Giants history to have 40 saves in a single season.
    ? Made the National League All-Star team for first time in 2008, then again in 2010.
    ? Between May 2nd and August 20th 2008, Wilson had 24 consecutive saves.
    ? Finished off the 2010 season with 93 strikeouts in 74.7 innings pitched and led the NL with 48 saves.
(Photo Credit: Don Davis)

Smaller Stadium, Enhanced Experience

For many natives of Fresno, it comes as quite a shock when they meet people who relocate to the Central Valley from preconceived “nicer” areas. Speaking from the perspective of a Bay Area boy, my response to many when they initially find out where it is I’m originally from is simple: “Fresno has its advantages”. 
As a young adult fresh out of high school, I was eager to take on the responsibilities and freedom that came with leaving the nest. Luckily for me, I was drawn to Fresno through opportunities of higher education. Little did I know that after just over six years in what I now consider home, there would be so many positives to outweigh any disadvantages.
Growing up, baseball was always top of mind. At first thought, moving three hours east to the Valley was only going to put distance between myself and the sport and teams I lived for growing up. With more consideration, the travel was actually going to be more of a baseball blessing than a letdown. 
Like most people in Fresno I was ecstatic at the thought of being able to watch young talented ballplayers before they advanced to the Majors, but took for granted how fortunate I really was. To this day I kick myself for not catching every game in April of 2007. After seeing the career that young Tim Lincecum has put together thus far from the comfort of my unenthusiastic living room, I can only imagine what Chukchansi Park was like as the dominant right hander mowed down opposing hitters in the PCL.
Following the first of back-to-back Cy Young Awards for Big Time Timmy Jim in 2008, I was certain I wouldn’t let another opportunity like that come through Fresno without being a part of it. Even though the circumstances were dramatically in my favor, I made sure I soaked up every bit of the Giants’ most recent highly anticipated prospects to come through Fresno. With Buster Posey breaking into Triple-A midway through the 2009 season, and starting the 2010 season with Madison Bumgarner, we were showered with the gift of future standouts in our own backyard.
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What some people don’t realize is hat there are always other chances to see future household names, even before they show signs of stardom. A prime example from my experience in Downtown Fresno is the rise of Brian Wilson. After seeing Wilson grind through three seasons with the Grizzlies, he suddenly compiled a record-setting number of saves in San Francisco in the same amount of time he spent in Fresno. While he was just another arm in the bullpen for the Grizzlies from ’05-’07, now he’s captured the attention of millions who “Fear the Beard“.
Although it’s been recognized by some, there are still way too many Fresnans who are unaware of just how much connection the Central Valley had to the 2010 World Series. Not only did the Giants fill a 25-man roster with 15 players who wore a Grizzlies jersey at some point in there career, they were led to a Championship title by a majority of former Fresno Grizzlies.
There still may be several folks who will ask the clueless, “Wait, Matt Cain played in Fresno?” or “Buster Posey was here for two months this season?” questions. However, it would be my guess that the San Francisco Giants’ remarkable run to a World Championship, which sparked an incredible support from communities throughout Northern California, will be many peoples’ equivalent to the Tim Lincecum experience I had just a few short seasons ago. 
Whether a fan of baseball, an admirer of professional athletes, or just someone who wants to be a part of something special, the lesson here is simply not to let the future Giants like Brandon Belt, Darren Ford and Zack Wheeler breeze through Fresno without the chance to watch them play. Staying informed and involved will enhance the big league experiences you’ll encounter down the road.

Baseball Bringing Communities Together

It was instilled in me at an early age that baseball was not only a sport, or a game, but that it served as an event that brought people together at different levels. The togetherness can be experienced on varying degrees: from backyard catch with your family, to a nationally televised event capturing the attention of millions across the country.
As I drove through the streets of San Francisco on Tuesday, October 19th, I couldn’t help but take in the sights of the mid-day energy of the big city environment. The first whiff of the fresh, early-afternoon air had a certain positivity lingering, which only got stronger as we approached our destination.
AT&T Park was surrounded by city blocks draped in orange and black, representing the fellowship of a city and a region brought together by baseball. The enthusiasm radiated throughout the streets, with fans flocking to the stadium to enjoy the game the way many purists would say it was supposed to experienced; during the day, under the natural light of sun. 
After attending nearly all 144 of the Fresno Grizzlies’ home games over the past two seasons– and only a handful of regular season games at the professional level– I couldn’t help but be a fan of what was laid out before me, and truly be thankful for what I was able to experience in my two-year involvement with the Triple-A affiliate of the Giants.
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To think that just four months ago, I had the privilege of watching the Giants’ most exciting young player, Buster Posey, hone his skills at Chukchansi Park– a stage nearly a quarter of the size of AT&T Park– is remarkable. To translate that into watching guys like former Grizzly Brian Wilson warm up before taking the mound in the ninth inning of the NLCS really puts into perspective the similarities of a minor league park compared to its Major League counterpart.
Having access to a minor league ballpark, to watch an almost equally high-quality level of professional baseball as the Giants is a huge advantage. The ability to watch young players develop into big league stars, just months before they become key contributors to a MLB playoff push, is a rarity. While having the potential NL Rookie of the Year, or a back-to-back reigning NL Cy Young winner may not come through a minor league park on a regular basis, watching them compete for a chance at a World Series ring sure opens your eyes to what kind of future superstars may make a brief appearance in your own back yard.
My experiences in a smaller venue compared to that of Major League Baseball have given me an immense appreciation for what I was apart of during Game 3 of the NLCS in San Francisco. To see how a team on a national arena can draw the support of such a large city sparks the inspiration of how the smaller backdrop of an affiliated team like the Fresno Grizzlies can do the same in their own community.
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