There have been many examples of two-sport athletes that chose one to play professionally, such as San Francisco Giants pitcher and former Notre Dame wide receiver Jeff Samardzija, and Hall of Fame first baseman/designated hitter and former Auburn tight end Frank Thomas. There have been the stories of Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson, both of whom played at the highest level in both football and baseball. And who is not keeping up with Tim Tebow, who, after a middling NFL career and a brief stint in the analyst chair, decided to give a professional baseball career a chance after being away from the game for over a decade?
There are of course, players that forgo a chance at the big leagues to make a name for themselves on the gridiron. Here is a short list of some of the more notable quarterbacks to have been considered viable MLB Draft prospects.
Fans know Brady as the greatest quarterback of all time, but how many knew that he was also considered for the MLB Draft? Brady was selected as a catcher out of San Mateo Junipero Serra high school in California in the 18th round of the 1995 Draft by the Montreal Expos, but turned them down to play college ball at Michigan, and the rest is history.
It is said that Marino could throw the ball so hard that he would break his receivers’ hands. Whether or not this story is true, his arm was, and could have been, one of his best tools on the diamond. As a senior at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Marino went 23-0 as a pitcher. As a shortstop, he was handy with a bat as well, hitting over .500 and prompting the Kansas City Royals to use a fourth round pick on him. They could have had Don Mattingly, but oh well.
Another quarterback from the 1983 NFL Draft class, Elway was taken in the second round of the MLB Draft in 1981 by the New York Yankees. Elway would play one season in the minors for their New York-Penn League affiliate in Oneonta, hitting .318 with 12 extra base hits in 42 games, despite having not played baseball in over a year at the time. When the Baltimore Colts drafted Elway, he threatened to play baseball full-time. Six days later, he was traded to Denver, and now fans can only wonder what could have been.
Before being drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1968, before winning the MVP award in 1974, and before leading the Raiders to a victory in the 1977 Super Bowl over the Minnesota Vikings, Stabler, also known as “The Snake,” was selected in the MLB Draft three years in a row, going as high as 24th overall by the Houston Astros in 1968. Some teams saw a bright career for him, but he was insistent on playing football instead.
Like Brady, fans know Wilson as a Super Bowl champion as the signal caller for the Seattle Seahawks. However, he fancied himself something of a baseball player as well, being selected out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles back in 2007. Wilson, unlike Brady, has left the door open as far as baseball is concerned, having been selected and signed by the Colorado Rockies in 2010 and then picked up by the Texas Rangers in the 2013 Rule Five Draft. He still makes appearances at Spring Training, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to do so now that he has been traded to the Yankees.
Manziel being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 28th round in 2014 never really made any sense, especially after he won the starting QB job at Texas A&M as a freshman. While he toyed with the idea of walking onto the Aggies baseball team, he never strongly considered it. With him trying to turn his life around, maybe focusing on baseball could help him. It helped current Rangers reliever Matt Bush after all.
Will we ever see another athlete try to make the jump to dual-sport stardom? With how grueling both seasons can be, it’s not very likely. But hey, you never know.