TAMPA, Fla. — Russell Wilson slipped on pinstripes for the first time in his life Monday morning and called it “a dream come true.”
After arriving at Yankees camp, the Super Bowl-winning Seahawks quarterback said his plan for the next five or six days is to soak in the “aroma” of winning associated with the franchise.
“It’s an honor to be here,” said Wilson, whom the Yankees acquired from the Rangers earlier this month. “The thing I’m excited about the most is learning about the Yankees and how they’ve won 27 world championships. You think about 27 world championships and what that takes, the mentality . . . There’s an aroma around here I have to figure out, and I can’t wait to learn more about it and use that for my football career as well.”
Wilson, 29, who played football and baseball for North Carolina State and grew up a Yankees fan, has not played in a minor-league game since 2011 and won’t appear in one, during spring training or otherwise, with the Yankees.
“I love playing and I want to get out there, but I also don’t want to get in the way. I want to learn as much as I can,” said Wilson, who wore No. 73 as he watched Monday night’s game against the Phillies from the dugout.
Wilson was acquired, more or less, as an in-uniform motivational speaker who will work out with the club, which he did Monday, taking infield and batting practice.
On this day, it was in a loaded group alongside Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez. After hitting as many balls off the cage as out of it in his first round, Wilson hit three home runs in his next round and finished with six in 39 total swings.
“He’s something special,” Judge said.
Before taking the field, Wilson spoke to the Yankees in the clubhouse. Earlier, he said his message would revolve around pursuing excellence at all times, bringing to mind Vince Lombardi’s oft-repeated “you don’t do things right once in a while . . . you do them right all of the time” comment.
“Having a championship mindset’s an everyday thing,” Wilson said. “You can tell that’s here already . . . There’s a reason why winners win. And so for me, and these guys in there, they all have a certain mindset of success, a place they want to go. Some people fear that, some people want that. There’s a difference between being fearful and not wanting to lose. For me, there’s only one thing I fear. And that’s being in second place.”
Judge declined to go into specifics about what Wilson said but did say he continued to talk to the quarterback afterward.
“It’s just cool being able to pick his brain,” Judge said. “That was the coolest part for me was during stretch talking to him, ‘hey, man, how do you prepare every week?’ He never wastes a minute, that’s what he talked about. Everything he does is for a purpose.’’
Wilson said being in camp, regardless of some outside perception, is not “a stunt.”
“I love playing the game. Baseball’s been deep in my heart, deep in my veins,” he said. “It goes back to the foundation of who I am and where I come from.”
Wilson said he hopes his time in camp is mutually beneficial.
“There’s a lot of guys fighting to win one thing, and that’s a World Series,” he said, comparing that to his personal Super Bowl-or-bust mantra. “And to be a small part of that, to help serve as much as I can and them give me some knowledge too, it’s a tremendous honor. I love watching greatness, and to be around that . . . What you’re around is what you become. Hopefully I get to win a Super Bowl and they get to win a World Series. That would be pretty cool.”