A Long Way From Home

Updated: December 22, 2013

You can always go home again

 Jeff Wilson had a decision to make. The 37 year old slugger and perennial All Star from Akron, OH was    a  free agent. After 11 successful seasons with the Charleston Statesmen, and brief stints with Palm Springs and Duluth, Wilson was staring at an offer sheet faxed from overseas. Japan to be exact. Tokyo, Japan. And it was for more money in a single season than he had ever made before in America. At this point in his career who knew if he would ever see a paycheck like that again.

What’s more, time was running out. It was nearly April, when the guys were packing  their bags and making travel plans, getting their gloves and their bodies and their minds ready for spring training. Only he had no idea where he was headed, if anywhere. There were a few inquiries made from PEBA teams, but no solid offers. And so, without quite realizing how he had come to this point, Jeff ‘Cajun’ Wilson, 6 time All Star, 2 time PEBA Championship winner, and All-American through and through, found himself on a 14 hour flight to Tokyo, Japan.

From the Neo-Tokyo Akira’s perspective, they had pulled a coup, prying away one of the PEBA’s best known and popular sluggers. It was a one year deal, with lots of money but little long term risk. They needed the big bat Wilson carried if they had any hopes of competing with the likes of Shin Seiki and Niihama-shi. There were whispers that he was past his prime, he was slipping a bit. Could he pull one or two more solid seasons out of his aging body?

Things got off to a rough start. With little time to acclimate to his new surroundings, Jeff felt like he was in a time warp, a step behind. The language, the culture, the food, new teammates. Even the gaijin were foreign to him. And it showed on the field. It took 2 weeks into the season to get his BA over his playing weight and hit his first home run. It could have made a lesser man crumble. But Jeff Wilson is determined, if nothing else, and seemingly through sheer will power he has fought through the disappointing start and made himself a potent part of the Akira lineup. His improved play has coincided with Neo-Tokyo’s rise in the standings.