* Rod Wilson, shown here hitting infield alongside C Mike Ivey during a Moncton Mets practice, passed away on Monday. He was a former New Brunswick Senior League and Sport New Brunswick coach of the year. Wilson’s family has asked donations be made in his memory to your local minor baseball association.
Wilson Leaves Behind A Glowing Legacy
By Dan Estey
With the baseball season just starting up, I was very saddened to hear the news from home in New Brunswick of the passing of local baseball coach and legend Rod Wilson.
Wilson passed away after a lengthly battle with heart and kidney disease in Fredericton. He was a devout husband, father, and grandfather and always held his family in the highest regard. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 56 years, Judy Wilson, his sons, Derek and Rod Jr., as well as his three grandsons Jackson, Jarrod, and Marcus as well as a number of extended family members.
Wilson devoted his life to his family, sports, and education. He attended Fredericton High and then went on to attend the University of New Brunswick and the NB Teacher’s College where he become an educator. He spent more than 50 years in the public school system around New Brunswick educating young students to help them reach their goals and dreams.
Wilson loved every minute of his profession and had a true calling of educating youth in the province as evidence of his Canadian Educator of the Year award that he received and held very dearly to his heart.
As an educator, Wilson carried those principles into another big aspect of his life; sports. He was an avid athlete, coach and mentor in the province for 52 years until he retired at the age of 68.
Wilson’s accomplishments are lengthly and very impressive. He was a NCCP Level III Baseball Coach, and was also a course conductor & master course conductor for the NCCP coaching programs as well. He also had a stint coach the Canadian Junior National Team, was a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Team during their World Series Championships, and was a four time coach of the year in the New Brunswick Senior League. He was honored by Sport New Brunswick in 1989 as the Coach of the Year and he was the head coach of the 2006 Canadian Senior champion Moncton Mets.
Weatherbee, as he was affectionately known, was also honoured by being enshrined in the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame (1998), the Baseball New Brunswick Hall of Fame (2000) and the Moncton Sports Wall of Fame (2008); a testament to his love and devotion of baseball and sport in general. He was also able to help bring championships to numerous sports teams including the Fredericton Royals and Moncton Mets as well as St. Stephen Spartans, St. Stephen Sabres, and the St. Stephen Rotary Wheels.
He was also honoured by the City of St. Stephen in 1988 by having a local field, the H. Rod Wilson Ball Diamond, named in his honour. With the exception of spending time with his family, one of Wilson’s greatest accomplishments was coaching sons Derek and Rod Jr. to a Canadian Senior championships in 2006 in Brandon, Man.
Personally, I first had the opportunity of meeting Wilson as a youngster as I ran around Royals Field in the heart of Marysville. He offered me my first job of chasing foul balls during the senior games on baseball hill. It was there that I had the opportunity to meet him as well as many legendary senior baseball players like Derek and Rod Jr., former Texas Rangers farm hand Jon Lindsay, Brady Moore, Corey Clark, Kurt Allen, Greg Arnold, Greg Hallihan, Andrew (Ace) Lockhart and many others.
I would always get to the park around 5:30 while the team was taking batting practice and it was then that I was able to talk to Wilson and these players. These guys were the reason my love for the game grew so much. Seeing them buy into a system put together by Wilson that not only made them better players but better ambassadors in their community. It also gave me the opportunity to see how much one person was able to change so many lives. He had such an easy going and relaxed attitude on the field and these traits carried onto his players.
Even when Rod was done with his coaching career, he was a fixture at Royals Field and many other diamonds in the province. With his wife Judy always at his side, they would travel around watching Derek and Rod Jr. play always supporting them in their playing careers.
In my final year of my teaching degree, I was placed at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton for my placement teaching. Along with athletic director Kurt Allen, Wilson was always willing to give me advice and tips on how I could become a more efficient educator and coach. Seeing the way that the kids looked up to him and were always seeking advice from him, you could tell right away the respect that students had for him.
He was always a great mentor to me as an educator and even though I never had the opportunity to play for him on the ball field he was always the first person to seek me out and congratulate me on anaccomplishment or give me advice about a situation him may have seen in a game with something that I should have done differently.
He was a true friend and a great sportsman and I, for one, will miss him very dearly.