George Wilson
George Wilson
mixed media w/ wood construction
19 x 38
Available for purchase. Please contact the artist.
Adrian, Michigan’s baseball hero, Wilson had many distinctions. Hailing from Palmyra, the son of former slaves, Wilson began his professional baseball career with the Adrian Light Guard in 1894. He was the only black player on an all-white team that included the young, future Hall-of-Famer, Honus Wagner. Legend has it that when Wilson joined the team, the entire pitching staff got sore arms and refused to play. When Wilson dazzled them with a no-hitter his first game out, the pitching staff suddenly recovered. Wilson recorded 280 strikeouts that season and 29 wins. Wilson also played that year for an all-black team in Adrian, The Page Fence Giants, an uncommonly well-bankrolled ball club for that time (black or white) who had their own railcar in which to travel. This team was one of the first great black ballclubs. In 1896, they won an unofficial championship against the New York Cubans, 9-6 in a 15-game series played throughout towns in Michigan.
About a decade later, Wilson, who was also an outstanding hitter, was beaned by an opposing pitcher. He was never the same after that, either as a player or individual. Wilson was confined to a mental institution in his later years where he died in 1915 at the age of 40. In his short career and life Wilson became the yardstick by which future pitchers would be measured. Hall-of-Famers Rube Waddell and Joe McGinnity, who both marveled at and copied Wilson’s tricky underhand raise and overhand delivery style, became legendary figures in Major League Baseball. When John Donaldson was beginning to make his mark a decade later in 1916, Dave Wyatt of the Chicago Defender, evoked Wilson: “Old leaguers will tell you that they never gazed upon a more perfect pitching machine than Wilson.”