Earl Wilson grew up loving sports. He went to Hammond Colored High School, where he played varsity basketball. His passion, however, was baseball and he played whenever and wherever he could get the chance. He played at Athletic Park in Ponchatoula for as many community teams as he could. As he grew, his parents, according to son Greg, instilled in him a strong work ethic and desire to always strive to be successful. These characteristics would be very important in Earl’s life as it unfolded.
Wilson began playing as an outfielder but soon switched to catching. He was always a strong hitter. In 1953, in what the Baseball Library web site describes as his first real season as a professional, he, because of his strong arm, was changed into a pitcher. He went he went 4–5 with a 3.81 ERA—and more walks (61) than strikeouts (56) for the Bisbee-Douglas Copper Kings of the Arizona-Texas League.