By: Ellen Ward
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.
? 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.
? 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)
By: Cody Turner
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.
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.