The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft got underway on Thursday evening and there is no doubt that when this post hits the blog-o-sphere, the talk will all be about which players were selected where and which teams were winners or losers in the draft. That said this post will not discuss this year’s NFL Draft. I am, after all, a baseball guy and if the draft doesn’t interest me enough to get me to switch away from The Big Bang Theory, than it certainly is not going to deter me from writing about baseball during the baseball season.
A blogger has to have his standard…right?
So I thought about it, maybe I could discuss the draft in a round-about, baseball-related fashion. After all, the NFL Draft does have a solid tie-in to Major League Baseball. There is actually a fairly rich history of players that have either played both in the NFL and MLB or whom were selected in both drafts.
For instance, let’s look at the Kansas City Royals for a moment. For the latter part of the 1970’s and much of the 1980’s, the Royals were one of the strongest teams in Major League Baseball. But how much different would their fortunes have been had they swayed a couple of stand-out quarterbacks, both selected in the 1979 MLB Draft, to forsake their football careers and grab their gloves?
For those unfamiliar with that draft, the two quarterbacks were Dan Marino (4th Round Pick) and John Elway (18th Round Pick). Marino was a stellar pitcher in high school that was said to have considered signing with the Royals, but opted out of it when he learned it would cost him his football scholarship at Pitt. On the other hand, John Elway was a solid hitting outfielder but opted to go to Stanford instead of playing for the Royals. Three years later, he was drafted by the Yankees and actually played 42 games in Single-A while he forced the Colts to trade his football rights.
It is easy to say that the Royals have been bit by the NFL the most times, but they are hardly the only ones. Both Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan followed in Jackson’s footsteps and became two-sport stars. Sanders was the more productive of the two, but found splitting the time between both was hampering his ability to play either. When he finally turned his back on baseball, he truly earned his hall of fame stripes in the NFL.
Another player that was selected in the MLB Draft was Tom Brady, who was an 18th round pick of the Montreal Expos in 1995, where he was drafted as a catcher out of high school. He would choose to play football for Michigan instead and the rest they say is history.
There is also a bevy of baseball players selected to play in the NFL Draft.
Dave Winfield is often considered on the all-around best athletes of all-time. Aside from his Hall of Fame baseball career, Winfield was a 17th round rick of the Minnesota Vikings in 1973 despite never playing college football. His selection by the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and Utah Stars (ABA) made him just the third person to ever be drafted by three different professional sports.
Kirk Gibson is best known for his fist-pumping, game-winning home run in the first game of the 1988 World Series, but few know that the reigning National League Manager of the Year was a 7th Round Pick of St. Louis Cardinals in 1978. However, he stuck with baseball and despite an injury-plagued career, put up a solid 17-years in the majors.
See, the weekend doesn’t have to revolve completely around football…right?