DENVER — It is remarkable how good a baseball player you have to be to even reach the low Class A minor league level.
You may remember back in mid-June when Peyton Manning, with his Omaha Productions crew in tow, took new Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson out to Coors Field, home of Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies, for batting practice.
This was back when Wilson was Colorado royalty for single-handedly bringing Super Bowl hopes back to Broncos Country. Reality is off to a slower start as the Broncos are 3-5 while Wilson and the offense struggled mightily in four primetime games.
Still, the show must go on and Peyton does save it with his quips during his humorous batting practice session.
The theme of the episode is how Wilson almost became a two-sport, football and baseball star like Bo Jackson in the late-1980s and Deion Sanders in the early-1990s.
Yes and no in Wilson's case. After his sophomore and junior seasons as starting quarterback for North Carolina State, Wilson played second base in the Colorado Rockies' minor-league system. Selected in the 4th round of the 2010 baseball draft by Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt -- who was, and still is, known for taking draft flyers on two-sport athletes -- Wilson played two half-seasons at the low Class A minor league level.
Wilson showed he was a four-tool player -- he had decent power for a second baseman (5 homers, 22 extra-base hits in 315 at-bats), speed (19 stolen bases), a good glove and a strong arm, naturally -- but the curveball was a challenge and he wound up a .229 hitter.
He left the Class A Asheville Tourists in the middle of the 2011 season to play his senior football year at Wisconsin. A wise decision as the next year Wilson would get drafted in the third round by the NFL Seattle Seahawks, where he began a 10-year run that included 9 Pro Bowl and two Super Bowl appearances.
The Peyton's Places episode was informative, if slow-moving until Manning and Wilson took BP. Wilson was quite good considering how long it had been since he played baseball. He demonstrated a legitimate professional swing and hit at least three BP home runs.
Manning got off to a slow start, swinging and missing several times before finding his groove. Whether he was pretending to miss didn't matter. Manning's self-deprecating responses never get old.
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