Im definitely not a Giants fan, but this dude is one of my favorite baseball players. Heres a good read about him.
Editor's note: Elizabeth Merrill's story on Brian Wilson marks the debut of "Curtain Call," a new weekly ESPN.com baseball feature that will spotlight a player, team or trend in the game.
LONDONDERRY, N.H. -- The yearbook is 11 years old and stored behind a counter at the public library. Years passed, dust formed and people forgot. These books usually aren't unearthed unless somebody does something. And when Brian Wilson was pitching the San Francisco Giants to a World Series championship this past fall, fastballs flaming, beard flowing, some people at Londonderry High School grabbed that 2000 annual and turned to a middle page to confirm that Wilson indeed was one of their own.
New Hampshire isn't known as a hotbed for major league baseball talent, but it does have a few notables. Chris Carpenter, who went to high school nearby in Manchester, is revered in these parts. So is Mike Flanagan.
Wilson, at best, is a surprising footnote. Most members of the current Londonderry High baseball team didn't even know he was an alumnus until this past fall. There is no wall of fame in Wilson's honor, no baseball field named after the black-bearded closer known as The Craziest Man in Baseball.
No, the most visible remnant of Wilson can be found in a sea of black-and-white mug shots. There's a preppy-looking kid in a striped sweater who, from the shoulders up, looks like everybody else: smiling, fresh-faced and slightly awkward. Maybe that day, Wilson was wearing his checkered shorts, the ones that looked as if they were borrowed from a senior citizen in Florida. He did strange things like that. Wilson wore shorts to school in the winter, with a foot of snow on the ground. He never cared what anyone else thought.
So this is his hometown history, two black-and-white photos. One caption. People in Londonderry still talk about that self-written caption. Most kids write something cheery and antiseptic on their way out, such as "Good luck in college!" or "Math, Lunch and Spanish were great." Wilson, as always, went a different route.
I'll be leaving this town, but I'll be successful ha ha ha. Too bad for you. For those who don't like me … You'll be pumping my gas. July 31st -- miss you, don't ever forget that dad. I'm done.
'You think it's crazy'
Brian Wilson has three homes. One is in San Francisco, where he is so beloved that the city adopted a "Fear the Beard" rally cry in the 2010 postseason; one is in the warmth and weirdness of Los Angeles; and the other sits in the Arizona desert.
Cary Edmondson/US PresswireWilson is known for his intelligence, his beard and his fastball.
In the offseason, Wilson runs up Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, elevation 2,706 feet. He waits until the afternoon, when the sun reaches its apex. He does the mountain in 37 to 40 minutes, then turns around and does it again.
He ran 700 miles, on his own, in the offseason.
"You think it's crazy," Wilson said as he leaned against a wall in the Giants' clubhouse one morning last month in Arizona. "I get it. But if you keep pushing yourself physically and mentally, your threshold keeps getting higher and higher."
The mountains might sculpt his body and test his mind, but the gumption to climb there comes from the cold of New Hampshire. Wilson doesn't talk much about his childhood unless it's about his father. Mike Wilson was an Air Force veteran, a man who, like most in his profession, was a perfectionist. He would make his boy shovel for seven hours on weekends. And raking was a lesson in detail. Young Brian had to bag the leaves, drag them into the woods, dig a hole and bury them.
Excuses weren't tolerated; whining wasn't allowed. Be punctual, Mike taught his boy. If you start something, finish it. But he also let his son think for himself and learn from his decisions.
They went to a barbershop when Brian was 7. There were four choices on the board: crew cut, men's cut, boy's cut, Mohawk. "Dad, what's a Mohawk?" he asked. "You want to find out?" his dad said, "OK."
So, no, he didn't exactly have a "normal" childhood. He was barely in junior high when his dad was diagnosed with cancer, and, five years later, Mike Wilson died. The day Brian found out his dad was sick, he had to become a man. At 12. While in little league. He says he had no choice.
If people didn't get him, didn't get his passion for baseball, his need to put everything into it because that's what his dad taught him, then tough. If they didn't get his odd sense of humor, too bad. Did he crack those jokes in class because the kid just needed, through all that pain, to laugh sometimes? Who knows?
He was an honor roll student at Londonderry, but clashed with various authority figures who didn't appreciate his occasional lack of a filter. Maybe, several Londonderry faculty members say, some teachers didn't understand what Wilson was going through.
"It happened at probably the worst time anybody could lose your dad," said Art Psaledas, an assistant principal at Londonderry High.
"Watching his dad deteriorate over the years was probably the singular thing that formed his personality."
But on the mound, there were no gray areas. Wilson was better than everybody else. First home game of his senior year, shortly after he had lost his dad, 29 scouts lined up along an 80-foot backstop to watch Wilson pitch. All of them had radar guns.
Wilson, according to former Londonderry coach Bob Napolitano, was completely oblivious. He got to the game, had a sandwich and something to drink in the dugout, and warmed up. He pitched a two-hitter, Napolitano said, and it was as if nobody was there. That's how focused he was at 17. It was no big deal.
Had Mike Wilson not leaned on him to do his best, would Brian have been able to take on that pressure alone?
"I think that's how you need to be raised," Wilson said. "It's not your friend, it's your dad. And he's going to be strict. And one day you're going to understand why. And sometimes, it's a little too late.
"They might pass away, and you might not get that chance to say thanks or understand why you did those things. But when you become a man, you understand why."
The Measure of a Man is What He Does With Power. No its the woman in his arms cuz she has big titties.
Formally used to be B-Rent,
Brent Wold = Bread Mold