Wilhelmsen Returns to Baseball After 5 Years
In Thursday's series with Montgomery the Jackson Generals' Tom Wilhelmsen took to the mound just like he always does. Then he begins to think about the wild ride he's been on.
After being drafted by the Brewers out of High School in 2003, Wilhelmsen seemed Destined for the Majors. But two years later, He walked away from the game. He was burnt out.
"It was exactly what I needed and what I wanted.," Wilhelmsen said. "I was able to travel and bar tend getting some money, be with family and friends. It was a great time to just figure out what I wanted to do."
It was the first time that he could remember that he wasn't playing baseball. He started bar tending at a local bar in Tucson, Arizona. Enjoying life away from the game for 5 years.
"I didn't think about it once," Wilhelmsen said. "Didn't touch a ball, joined a co-ed softball league with some friends and that was it. Didn't watch baseball. Out of mind out of site."
But after 5 years away he started to get the itch to throw again.
"Around 2009 I got sick and burnt out bar tending," Wilhelmsen said. "I didn't go to college or have a degree so I didn't know what I could do so I decided to give baseball another shot. There was a tryout for an independent team. I heard about that so my father and I got a glove, started throwing and worked up that point. I made the team and one thing lead to another."
Only months after starting back he received a call from Jack Zduriencik, the man who signed him out of High School, now the General Manager for the Mariners.
The following spring he was brought in for Spring Practice where he made the 40 man roster.
"I didn't think I was going to the majors out of spring training," Wilhelmsen said. "The opportunity to be in camp was amazing and to has success was more amazing. Then to make the team was icing on the highest cake you could think of. Its been a wild and crazy rode and on a fast track."
That fast track has him here in Jackson. Preparing to be a starter once again.
"I liked the opportunity to be in the big leagues and come out and face a few hitters and get a taste," Wilhelmsen said. "But ultimately my heart is set on starting. I like the routine. I like the show and feel comfortable with it."
Hes come a long was since 2003, and for Wilhelmsen it's the support from his family and friends that has helped. Especially from his wife Cassie.
"She was a big reason why I decided to play ball again," Wilhelmsen said. "But family and friends all support me back home are excited and rooting for me. It makes you work harder and appreciate it more."