07/04/2004 7:00 PM ET
Wilson named to first All-Star Game
Shortstop rewarded for fantastic start
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com
|Jack Wilson leads all NL shortstops in batting average, hits and triples. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson recently admitted that he hadn't been getting much sleep in anticipation of the announcement of the 2004 National League All-Star team.
Congratulations, Jack. You've made it. Now get some rest.
On Sunday, Wilson was named as a reserve to his first All-Star team. He joins starter Edgar Renteria of the St. Louis Cardinals and Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds as one of three shortstops on the Senior Circuit squad.
"It's just an absolute honor," said Wilson. "It's something I never would have thought possible. It feels really good."
Wilson was informed of his selection on Sunday morning by manager Lloyd McClendon before the Bucs' ran their winning streak to nine games with a 6-2 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers.
"I told him I was extremely proud of him, to just continue to do the things that he does and don't ever change," said McClendon.
"That was a pretty cool meeting," said Wilson. "I usually go [into McClendon's office] and it's not as pleasant as that meeting."
Armed with the knowledge that he was a first-time All-Star, Wilson entered Sunday's game with a feeling he hadn't experienced in years.
"It was actually kind of weird. The first inning I went out there for defense and I was nervous," said Wilson. "I haven't been nervous here for a couple of years.
"I was thinking, 'Now you're considered an All-Star.' I was kind of freaked out by that."
It obviously didn't affect Wilson's play. In his first at-bat, Wilson drilled his eighth home run of the season.
"Hitting the home run was great. It gave us the early lead and made me fall back in my comfort zone," said Wilson.
The Bucs' starting shortstop since his rookie season in 2001, Wilson has always been a gifted defensive player. In 2004, he has matched his brilliance in the field with outstanding production at the plate.
A .246 career hitter entering the season, Wilson is currently the NL leader with 113 hits and seven triples. He has not gone two consecutive games without a hit at any point this season.
Wilson also leads all NL shortstops in batting average (.339), total bases (168) and slugging percentage (.517), home runs (8) and RBIs (34).
Wilson credits his development as a hitter to simply following the advice he has passed on to his younger teammates.
"The biggest advice I have been giving these guys is you are going to have 500-600 at-bats. It doesn't matter if you go 0-for-3 your first three at-bats," said Wilson. "If I told you that you were going to have 600 at-bats in a row, would you be worried about going 0-for-your-first-three? No.
"You give advice and you have to follow it yourself."
Defensively, Wilson continues to produce highlight-reel caliber plays on an daily basis. He should be a top candidate to earn his first career Gold Glove at season's end.
"Jack continues to amaze," said Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon. "He's been the best shortstop in the National League this season."
Wilson's peers have taken notice of his improvement. He finished fourth among National Leaguers in the player ballot, and first among non-starters after placing fifth among shortstops in the fan voting.
"That kind of blew me away," Wilson admitted. "The fan votes are very important, obviously, and to be in the top five was an extreme honor. But to be voted in by your peers kind of drives you speechless."
Wilson plans to participate fully in the All-Star festivities, and hopes to include his two-year-old son, Jacob, in at least one event.
"The first thing I think of is sitting on the field with my son watching the Home Run Derby," said Wilson. "That's something that I've dreamed about for the last couple of weeks."
Wilson is the first Pirates shortstop to be named to the All-Star team since Jay Bell made the squad in 1993. He joins Bell, Gene Alley, Dick Groat and Arky Vaughn as one of five All-Star shortstops in Pirates history.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.