Wilson grew up with another Anderson legend, former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine. Erskine isn’t at all backward about voicing his support of the award carrying “Jumpin’ Johnny’s” name.
But Erskine is a big admirer of Wilson for reasons that go well beyond his athletic abilities and accomplishments.
“Johnny Wilson should be the poster boy for Anderson Community Schools,” said Erskine, who has his name on one elementary school and has often suggested another school should carry Wilson’s name. “I grew up with Johnny.
“I came from a poor family, but Johnny’s family was even poorer. We went to Shadeland (Elementary) School together. He had the least chance of anybody of being successful. He was raised by a single parent. But he always listened to the right people and always kept a good lifestyle.”
Then he not only graduated from high school but made it to college.
“In my day only about 10 percent of high school students went to college,” said Erskine. “But again he got the tutoring and got good grades. He has become a successful, dignified person. It is a great story.”
Wilson is honored to have his name on the award.
“It’s been 60 years or so since I played in this area,” he said. “It is truly an honor that people still think enough of me to want my name on this.”
He also hopes that the award might lead to something more down the road.
“I hope by using my name that I can give back for the good that happened to me,” said Wilson. “If by having this it causes some athletes to say, ‘Hey, I’d like to get that award,’ and motivate them to try to compete in three sports, then that would be great.”