The right-handed relief pitcher for the L.A. Dodgers, Brian Wilson, is a native of the state of New Hampshire. Wilson, who was raised in Londonderry, attended (and played for) Londonderry High School, where he was a bit of a troublemaker, getting kicked out of classes for arguing with teachers. According to Brian, baseball was the only thing on his mind, and that feistiness just might have led him to the big leagues.
Wilson was drafted by the San Francisco Giants out of Louisiana State University in the 24th round of the free-agent draft in 2003. He made his major league debut on April 23, 2006 against the Colorado Rockies.
He was picked to pitch in the All-Star Game for 2008 at Yankee Stadium in New York. That's quite an accomplishment for a young pitcher. But he's known for his fearless attitude and his ability to get important outs when it counts.
In 2007 he was sent back to the minors after a bad start during spring training. He played most of the 2007 season in AAA Fresno, where he rediscovered his command of the ball. Wilson was called up in August but had to compete with Armando Benitez for the position of closer. By then, he had completed 6 out of 7 saves. When the closer Brad Hennessey started to struggle, Wilson stepped in.
In 2008, Wilson, who was named to the All-Star Team for the first time, had 40 saves (including 24 consecutive saves during the regular season), 3 wins and 2 losses in 59 games pitched. He was tied for second place in saves during the regular season for the National League. In 2009, he had his best year with an ERA of .241. In March 2010, Brian signed a two-year contract extension with the Giants worth $15M.
Brian is also the star of a reality-based television show about his life called Life of Brian, which airs on Comcast SportsNet.
After an outstanding post-season performance in the NLCS against the Phillies, (he earned a win and three saves), Wilson played an important role during the 2010 World Series. You couldn't miss him - he was the one with the thick black beard, which he began growing out in September. The one that fans started emulating at playoff games by wearing fake black beards.
That's something that makes Wilson stand out. "I like to say whatever I want to say, do what I want to do, have a good time, but in the guidelines. If I want to wear sweatpants with Spongebob socks, I wear sweatpants and Spongebob socks. Maybe I guess I don't care what people think. I'm not following a guideline to try and keep it in the norm, but nor am I trying to be different. If I like it, I like it. If I don't like it, you're going to know about it.....Normal doesn't sell," he told Sports Illustrated in February 2011. In the spring of 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle said, "Wilson is now the face (and beard) of the team." So much, that he began appearing in local and national television commercials.
Wilson threw the final two outs of Game One in the 2010 World Series, which the Giants won 11-7. In Game Two the Giants played a shut out, winning 9-0. Game Three was won by the Texas Rangers, 4-2. In Game Four, Brian pitched a perfect 1-2-3 to finish the game with a 4-0 win. On November 1, Wilson threw the final strike to end Game Five. The San Francisco Giants won 3-1, winning the 2010 World Series.
In 2011, Wilson became, "the face (and beard) of the team," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Toward the end of spring training he tore an oblique muscle which forced him to spend the first six games on the DL. As of late July though, he had 32 saves. He was also chosen to be part of the All-Star Game for the third time in his career. He served as the closer for the National League and earned a save.
In March 2012, Virgin America Airlines revealed the latest edition to their fleet - the "bearded" Airbus A320 - which was painted to match Wilson's facial hair, proving that the beard has not only made him a pitching star but a pop culture icon.
In 2012, Brian's season was cut short early when he had to have Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career. He became a free agent before the 2012-2013 season and chose to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, signing a contract to finish out the season. He appeared in 18 games and had a .66 ERA. In December 2013, he signed a $10 million contract with the Dodgers. The contract was for one year with a player option for the 2015 season.