"More than anything, just the experience of being around a championship organization and a team that has done a lot of great things -- how poised these guys are, how relaxed they are, how much fun they have coming to work every day," Wilson said. "It's the same thing we try to do with the Seattle Seahawks. It really is. It's the same language that they use in terms of competing and playing great ball all the time and having the right mindset. It transfers over. For me, playing the quarterback position, you have to have amnesia. You have to be able to stay focused one pitch at a time and all those things. So for me, coming back out here feels right at home."
Wilson hung out with some of the club's regulars, chatting with Elvis Andrus, Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre and others during various team drills. He took grounders with the rest of the infielders, and whenever he made a play -- even a routine one -- hundreds of fans chanted his name. Many of them wore Seahawks No. 3 jerseys and snapped pictures. Some held signs thanking him for winning the Super Bowl last month. The number of fans rivaled those at Yu Darvish's first intrasquad game in 2012, an inning that was broadcast live on TV in Japan.
"I just wanted to see Russell Wilson and make a memory for my son," said Trevor Tiner, holding his 3-year-old son, Carson, decked out in his Wilson jersey. Tiner moved to Arizona a few weeks ago from Spokane, Wash., and was thrilled that Wilson was there. "I think he could play baseball if he wanted. He's such a great athlete and he works hard at everything he does."
More than 100 fans crowded into the first four rows of Surprise Stadium more than an hour before the first pitch of the Rangers' Cactus League game with the Cleveland Indians, hoping for an autograph. Some of them got their wish, as Wilson emerged from the Rangers' dugout about 15 minutes early and signed some of them, just as he did for a bit after working out in the back of the club's complex.
Wilson's only time in the batter's box was as the Rangers' representative in exchanging the lineup card. The club and Wilson weren't going to take any chances on an injury in a meaningless spring training game. That didn't stop the strong Seahawks contingent from chanting his name or various Seahawks cheers throughout the game.
"The 12th man fans were unbelievable today," Wilson said. "They're unbelievable every day. They're everywhere. They find a way to make something happen, so just the Seattle Seahawks fans, the 12th man fans, are out in the outfield, they're on third-base line, first-base line, chanting 'Seahawks' the whole way. Hopefully the Dallas fans didn't get too mad. It really is a special thing we have in Seattle and it was great."
Wilson hadn't been in a baseball uniform since 2011, when he played Class A ball with the Colorado Rockies, the team that drafted him in the fourth round in 2010 and signed him for $200,000. Wilson played parts of two seasons in Class A in 2010 and 2011, hitting a combined .229 in 315 at-bats with five homers and 26 RBIs.
Several scouts this week said they believed Wilson was a solid defender with, obviously, a good arm. But his bat was lacking, and they thought he needed at least 1,500 at-bats to find consistency and understand pitch recognition. Wilson didn't get that chance, opting to play football for Wisconsin in 2011 and then heading to Seattle as a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft.