*1979 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Two future NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks were drafted right out of high school by major league baseball teams on this date in 1979. Dan Marino was selected in the 4th round by the Kansas City Royals. John Elway was drafted in the 18th round, also by the Royals. They both chose college instead; Marino – Pittsburgh and Elway – Stanford.
Elway was drafted again by the Yankees in 1981. He played 42 games for the Yankees Oneonta, NY farm team in ‘82, and showed promise. He hit .318 with 4 home runs and 25 RBI. He was also trying to get the Baltimore Colts of the NFL, who drafted him #1 in 1983, to trade him. They did. That’s how Elway ended up in Denver. Dan Marino did not play any professional baseball.
There have been a bunch of other two-sport stars. Here are a few of them:
Michael Jordan – The basketball icon, made a flight of fancy to the White Sox minor leagues in the mid-90’s. Getting back into basketball was a better use of his talents.
Bo Jackson – Played football for the Oakland Raiders and major league baseball for the Royals and White Sox. A hip injury cut short his involvement in both sports.
Danny Ainge – The future NBA star ( and current Boston Celtics general manager) played 211 games as an infielder for the Toronto blue Jays from 1979 to ’81, finishing with a .220 average.
Deion Sanders – Deion was probably the most successful two-sport pro athlete. He played parts of 9 seasons for the Yankees, Braves, Reds and Giants, hitting .273 and stealing 56 bases for Cincinnati in 1997. Much of this overlapped with his 14 years in the NFL, 8 as a Pro Bowler, around the same time. He is the only athlete to play in a Super Bowl and World Series.
Brian Jordan – Played defensive back (with Deion Sanders) for the Atlanta Falcons in the early 90’s. Jordan settled on baseball after that.
Dave DeBussshere – Pitched 102 innings for the White Sox in 1962 & 63 with an impressive ERA of 2.90 before settling full time on an NBA career with the New York Knicks.
Chuck Connors – Played baseball for the Dodgers and Cubs and basketball for the Boston Celtics in the late 40’s and early 50’s. He’s probably best known, however, for his lead role in an old TV show, “The Rifleman.”
George Halas – Played 12 games for the Yankees in 1919 before focusing on football and helping found the National Football League and the Chicago Bears.