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Robert James "Red" Wilson (born March 7, 1929) was a college football player and Major League Baseball catcher who played 10 seasons in the Major Leagues for the Chicago White Sox (1951-1954), Detroit Tigers (1954-1960), and Cleveland Indians (1960).

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Football and Baseball Star at University of Wisconsin–Madison

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wilson attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he was a star football player for the Badgers. Wilson won Most Valuable Player honor as the center for the Badgers in 1947 and 1948. He was also an all-conference center in 1947. In his senior year, 1949, Wilson was the team captain and won the Big Ten Most Valuable Player award as an end. Wilson also led the Badgers baseball team in batting with batting averages of .342 and .426 in 1948 and 1949. He led the Badgers to a 17-7 record and a spot in the 1950 College World Series. Wilson graduated from Wisconsin in 1951 as an insurance major.

Major League Baseball Catcher

Wilson was drafted in the 4th round of the 1950 NFL draft (52nd pick overall) by the Cleveland Browns under Paul Brown,[1] but opted for a baseball career after leaving Wisconsin. He was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free ageint in 1950, playing 85 games for the White Sox from 1951-1953. In May 1954, Wilson was traded by the White Sox to the Tigers for Matt Batts. Wilson played for the Tigers for 7 years from 1954-1960. Wilson ended his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1960.

Wilson was the primary catcher for Tigers pitcher Frank Lary, who was known as "'The Yankee Killer" because of his 16-3 record against the Yankees with Wilson catching. Wilson batted .354 in the 21 games where he was paired with Lary against the Yankees - 96 points above Wilson's career average.

Wilson's best season was 1958 when he played in career-high 103 games, hit for a .299 batting average and a .373 on base percentage. He also stole 10 bases, 8th best in the American League. Wilson also had an excellent year as a catcher in 1958, with a Range factor of 5.93 -- 0.59 points ahead of the league average for catchers. The following year (1959), Wilson had a career-high Range factor of 6.23 -- 0.92 points above th league average.

In 602 Major League Baseball games (580 as a catcher), Wilson hit for a .258 batting average and a .338 on base percentage.

After his playing career, Wilson was a founder and President of the Westgate Bank in Madison, Wisconsin. He was also President of the Wisconsin Alumni Association from 1971-1972. He has also been inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.

Wilson's 1958 baseball card, Topps No. 213, showed him in a truly bizarre pose. The company painted out the natural background of the pictures that year and, in a photo showing Wilson swinging his bat, painted the bat out of the picture too--showing Wilson looking as if his right arm were amputated a few inches below the shoulder. View Wilson's Card 213 Here

See also

External links

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