These Athletes Were Drafted By MLB But Starred In A Different Sport
Two-sport standout Kyler Murray is under contract with the Oakland Athletics. However, the Oklahoma Sooners quarterback declared for the NFL draft. Now, he must decide if he is going to honor the contract or make the jump to football.
While very few people are blessed with the athletic gifts to make it as a professional, these athletes were doubly blessed. These MLB draftees actually starred in a different sport, and some even decided to step away from the diamond to pursue other dreams.
Henson signed a six-year $17-million contract to forgo the NFL to play for the Yankees. The former backup quarterback played a total of eight games in the majors, then announced he was leaving the team to focus on football in 2003.
During his football career, Henson was drafted by the Houston Texans in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. In April 2009, he was released from the Lions after the team selected Matthew Stafford as the first overall pick.
Winston was considered the second-best baseball prospect in the state of Alabama in 2012. Even though he made it clear he planned to enroll in college, the Texas Rangers drafted him in the 15th round..
In two years of college ball, he compiled an incredible 1.94 ERA. But, Winston decided the mound wasn’t for him. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his contract with the Bucs contains a clause prohibiting him from playing baseball. Today, he is still the team’s starting quarterback.
Russell Wilson’s past is well documented. The Baltimore Orioles drafted him after high school, but he, like other on this list, turned them down. He instead went to North Carolina State that fall. He would spend two seasons as a second baseman in the Colorado Rockies organization.
Wilson attended spring training for the Texas Rangers and Yankees. Despite having a passion for baseball, the Ohio native led the Seattle Seahawks to their first Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.
The five-time Super Bowl champion was drafted by the Montreal Expos as a catcher. He was briefly scouted by the Montreal Expos, but was never offered him a formal contract. Brady would then be drafted by the New England Patriots in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Taken in the 6th round of the NFL draft, he he considered as the biggest steal in the history of the draft. Brady is among the greatest quarterbacks of all-time thanks to all of his accomplishments.
Weeden played five seasons in the minor leagues after high school. A second-round pick for the Yankees in 2002, the aspiring quarterback never made it past Class A. After minor league appearances with the Dodgers and Royals, injuries affected the pitcher, and he quit the sport altogether.
Weeden focused on football, enrolling at Oklahoma State in 2007. In 2012, at 28 years old, Weeden was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, becoming the oldest player ever taken in the first round.
A tremendous athlete in high school, Culpepper was selected by the Yankees in 1995. The athletic marvel didn’t sign and went to college at UCF. Despite a love for baseball, Culpepper was committed to playing football as a quarterback.
After college, he emerged as a three-time Pro Bowler with the Minnesota Vikings. Following a serious knee injury, he played sparsely for the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, and even had a stop with the Detroit Lions.
Long is an intriguing baseball prospect on this list. In high school he starred in baseball and football. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 23rd round of the 2008 MLB Draft, but didn’t sign. Instead, he elected to honor his commitment to play the sport at Florida State University.
Legal and academic issues led to him focusing on football. Long’s athleticism has proven worthy for the Chicago Bears, where he’s a three-time Pro Bowler.
After a Heisman Trophy-winning season with Texas, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted the running back in the eighth round of the 1995 draft. An outfielder, Williams played in 170 games across four seasons in the Phillies farm system.
After the team started shortstop Jimmy Rollins, Williams would be selected by the Expos and Rangers, but opted for a full-time NFL career. He only played in 147 games, or 23 fewer games than he did in baseball.
The aspiring outfielder was drafted twice by MLB teams – first by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 then by the Minnesota Twins in 2009. His performance at the University of Minnesota showed his pure athleticism, but he prioritized his career on football.
The wide receiver was drafted by the Denver Broncos where he played for eight seasons. He also played for the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. He had a one-year stint in New England, but retired from football altogether in August 2018.
Tate was drafted twice as an outfielder. The Notre Dame alum was drafted in the 42nd round by the Arizona Cardinals out of high school in 2007. In 2010, the San Francisco Giants drafted Tate in the 50th round.
That same year, the Seattle Seahawks drafted him in the second round. The one-time Pro Bowler would play a prominent role in the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory in 2014. Tate has also played for the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles.
Though Ward never played baseball in college, he was drafted as a pitcher by the Brewers in 1993, and again the following year by the Yankees. However, the Heisman Trophy winner didn’t pick football or baseball, and instead focused his talents on basketball.
Ward played in the NBA from 1994-2005. He played for the New York Knicks, making a Finals appearance with the team. The Florida State alum also played for the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets.
At one point in his life, Dan Marino was an elite pitching prospect. In 1979, the Pittsburgh alum was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the draft, but focused on playing quarterback in college. Ultimately, the nine-time Pro Bowler made the right decision.
The former MVP set single-season records of 5,084 passing yards, 48 touchdown passes, nine 300-yard passing games, and four 400-yard passing games. In his first year of eligibility, Marino was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Manziel played middle infielder as a teen before foregoing baseball for football. However, the San Diego Padres drafted him in 2014, but he never signed with the team. He focused on football, becoming a star when he played for Texas A&M.
Unfortunately, his NFL career never took off with the Browns, which led to his release in 2016. Following his brief stint, “Johnny Football” has since taken his talents to the CFL, where he plays for the Montreal Alouettes.
The former number one pick was selected by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1981 amateur draft. He was six picks ahead of Tony Gwynn and received money for playing with the team’s short-season affiliate.
But, for some reason, football was in his blood. After being drafted by the Baltimore Colts, Elway had his way and was traded to the Denver Broncos. Some felt he would have been a star if he stuck to baseball.
Sanders played parts of nine seasons in MLB while putting in 14 years in the NFL. The NFL Hall of Famer played with the Yankees, Braves, Reds, and Giants during his nine-year baseball career. In 1992, he was allowed to play in the 1992 World Series for the Braves.
“Primetime” is the only player to have appeared in both the Fall Classic and the Super Bowl. He won the Lombardi Trophy twice with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.
Bo Jackson was an All-Star in both MLB and the NFL. He refused to sign with Tampa Bay in the NFL, feeling that the Bucs would keep him from ever playing baseball. The Royals took advantage . of the situation and signed the two-athlete star.
He was the MVP of the 1989 All-Star Game, and he had a Pro Bowl selection with the Raiders in 1990. Jackson did catch on with stints with the White Sox and later the Angels.
Locker was a draft pick in the NFL and MLB. The Angels selected the pitcher-outfielder in the 10th round of the 2009 draft. However, he didn’t sign so he could attend the University of Washington to play football.
A first-round draft pick for the Tennessee Titans, Locker only started 23 games in a four-season career. Locker would announce his retirement from football in 2015, citing a lack of desire to continue playing the game.
Jack Del Rio
Another Blue Jay on this list is the former Oakland Raiders coach. Del Rio was drafted out of high school, but opted to accept a scholarship to the University of Southern California. From there, he would play as a linebacker, eventually playing for the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs.
Following his playing career, Del Rio was a linebacker coach for the Baltimore Ravens, winning Super Bowl XXXV. After retiring, he got into coaching and has been the head coach in Jacksonville and Oakland.
Dozier was first drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 18th round in 1983. He ended up turning down the Tigers and going to college to keep pursue his NFL dreams. Dozier was considered a first-round bust after the Minnesota Vikings drafted him in 1987.
He didn’t sign with the Tigers, but that didn’t mean the New York Mets wouldn’t sign him, which they did. In 1992, Dozier was called up to the major leagues on May 6.
The BYU alum was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1977 amateur draft. He would make the major leagues in 1979, mostly as a second baseman. Ainge is the youngest Blue Jay in history to hit a home run at 20 years and 77 days.
After three seasons, he decided to pursue a career in basketball, and was chosen by the Boston Celtics in 1981. The Oregon native is a two-time NBA champion, and is now the general manager of the franchise.
While still in college, NFL star Colin Kaepernick was drafted by the Chicago Cubs during the 43rd round of the 2009 MLB draft. However, he opted out of playing baseball to continue at the University of Nevada.
This may have proven to be the right choice, as just two years later, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and made a name for himself after he eventually became the team’s starting quarterback following the injury of Alex Smith.
In the 2004 amateur draft, the Tennessee Titans quarterback was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 36th round. Prior to his football career, Cassel had played first played little league, in which his team reached the Little League World Series in 1994.
However, he switched focus his junior year of high school to football. Nevertheless, playing for the University of Southern California, he returned to the game as a pitcher. He turned down the A’s offer and was eventually drafted by the patriots.
Mark Hendrickson spent four seasons as a power forward in the NBA playing for Philadelphia, Sacramento, New Jersey, and Cleveland. He was drafted into the MLB six times by six different teams between 1992 and 1997.
Yet, in 2002, he finally made the decision to change sports and began pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays. He continued with the MLB for ten years before retiring with a record of 58 wins and 74 losses.
Otherwise known as “The Snake,” Ken Stabler was a Hall of Fame quarterback and four-time Pro-Bowler. Yet, he was still selected in three MLB drafts.
The first was by the Yankees in 1966, the second by the Mets in 1967, and the third by the Astros in 1986, where he was the 24th round pick. Regardless, he turned down the offer every time, and in 1968 was drafted in the second round by the Raiders and went on to have an incredible career.
Although there are two Matt Moores, one who is a pitcher in the MLB and the other a quarterback in the NFL, there were almost two Matt Moores in the MLB. The latter was selected in the 22nd round of the 2004 draft by the Los Angeles Angels but ultimately denied their request.
While he played baseball in high school, he went on to play football for Oregon State. Interestingly, he wasn’t even drafted into NFL but signed as an undrafted free agent.
Although Tyler Gaffney is known for playing as a running back for the New England Patriots, in 2012, while attending Stanford, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 24th round.
This is because he played as an outfielder playing for the State College Spikes. The team sees many players go on to play for the Pirates. Then, in 2014, he was drafted into the NFL by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round. He was then injured, and later waived.
Cedric Benson may have been the fourth pick in the 2005 NFL draft, and in 2001, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 12th round of the 2001 MLB draft. Initially, Benson had played in nine games for a Dodger’s affiliate, the GCL Dodgers.
He then attended the University of Texas at Austin where he was a starting running back. His career in the NFL spanned over eight seasons and saw him playing with the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, and Green Bay Packers.
Dave DeBusschere is considered to be one of the top players ever to touch a basketball in the NBA. Nevertheless, before he became a legend on the court, he played a little baseball. He played two seasons with the Chicago White Sox, for a total of 36 games.
Then, after retiring from baseball, he went on to become a Hall of Fame forward, retiring with two NBA Championships and a whopping eight All-Star appearances.
Ozzie Smith Was A 15-Time All-Star, Sorry St. Louis
In 1976, Smith was playing semi-professional baseball in Iowa. That same year, the Detroit Tigers selected the shortstop in the seventh round of the amateur draft. However, the parties never came close to an agreement on a contract as Smith elected to return to college for his senior year.
A year later, the San Diego Padres selected him in the fourth round. The 15-time All-Star would help the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series in 1982, becoming a Hall of Fame inductee in 2002.
Paul Molitor Chose College Over The Cardinals
After graduating from Cretin High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, Molitor was selected in the 28th round of the 1974 free-agent draft. The St. Louis Cardinals took a chance on Molitor but instead he chose to attend college in his home state.
Following his junior year in college, the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him as the third overall pick in 1977. During his career, he was known for his exceptional hitting and speed. He made seven All-Star appearances and was named the World Series MVP in 1993.
Barry Bonds Could Have Been A Giant His Entire Career
Bonds was first drafted by the Giants in 1982. Both sides were unable to come up with an agreement and Bonds would attend Arizona State University. In 1985, the Pirates took the outfielder with the sixth overall pick.
During his career, Bonds was regarded as an exceptional hitter, eventually surpassing Hank Aaron for most career home runs. In total, he picked up an impressive eight Golden Gloves for his defense on the field. In 2016 Bonds served as the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins but he was fired at the end of the season.
Mark McGwire Helped His Second Draft Team Win A World Series
The Montreal Expos drafted him in 1981 but never signed. Instead, he played college baseball at the University of Southern California. After three years of college and a stint on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, McGwire was drafted by the Athletics.
He would help Oakland win the World Series in 1989 and as a coach with St. Louis in 2011. One of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball history, McGwire is the former record holder for both home runs in a season and home runs hit by a rookie.
Todd Helton Skipped San Diego For The Rockies
San Diego’s second-round draft pick in 1992 opted to play two sports at Tennessee. Helton was the school’s starting quarterback until an injury opened the door for his backup and pal, Peyton Manning. In 1995, the Colorado Rockies selected the two-sport athlete eighth overall.
The five-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger hold the franchise club records in many categories. He’s the leader in hits, home runs, doubles, walks, runs scored, runs batted in. Helton has his number 17 retired by the Rockies as well.
Tim Lincecum Rejected Several Offers
The Chicago Cubs drafted Lincecum in the 48th round of the 2003 MLB Draft. He would instead attend college and was selected by the Cleveland Indians in 2005, rejecting a $700,000 signing bonus.
The following year, he was the 10th overall pick for the San Francisco Giants, opting for a $2.025 million signing bonus, which at the time, was the most the organization had paid for any player. The big payday paid off significantly, the two-time Cy Young Award Winner is now the proud owner of three World Series rings.
Ian Kinsler Waited Until The Time Was Right
The four-time All-Star was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks twice. In 2000, Kinsler was selected by the team, taking the high school prospect in the 29th round. But, the infielder opted to go to Central Arizona College. When the 2001 draft came around, Arizona once again took Kinsler, but in the 26th round.
He would then become a 17th round draft pick for the Texas Rangers. The five-tool player is one of the 12 ballplayers in major league history who’s had multiple 30-30 club seasons.
Chris Sale Jumped For The 21st Round To 13th Overall Pick
The Colorado Rockies drafted the high school senior in the 21st round of the 2007 MLB Draft. Sale was presented with an offer of $125,000 but this prospect chose to attend Florida Gulf Coast University.
Sale gained strength, velocity, and maturity as he blossomed into the 13th overall pick by the Chicago White Sox in 2010. The money he left on the table with the Rockies ultimately made up for winning the 2018 World Series with the Boston Red Sox.
George Springer Made The Right Choice By Gaining Ground In College
After the Minnesota Twins selected Springer in the 48th round in 2008, one thing stopped him. He decided he wasn’t ready for professional baseball. Springer would enroll at the University of Connecticut, eventually being named to the 2009 Baseball America Freshman All-America First Team. Plus, he was named the Big East Conference rookie of the year.
The Houston Astros landed Springer in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. Making the outfielder the highest selection in the MLB Draft in Connecticut baseball history.
Buster Posey Moved Positions And It Works Out For The Giants
In 2005, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Posey as a right-handed pitcher out of Lee County High School. But, he never signed as he already made a commitment to attend Florida State University. Three years later, the San Francisco Giants drafted him as the fifth overall pick.
Since Posey’s arrival in the Bay Area, he’s been a significant factor for the franchise. The 2010 Rookie of the Year has been named to five All-Star appearances and steering San Francisco to three World Series championships.
Jake Arrieta Bounces Around Colleges Then Settled Into The Bigs
Following his freshman year at Weatherford Junior College, the Milwaukee Brewers drafted the pitcher in the 26th round. Instead, Arrieta opted to transfer to Texas Christian University, winning the Mount West Conference Pitcher of the Year Award. In 2007, the Baltimore Orioles selected the pitcher in the fifth round of the MLB Draft.
A year later, Arrieta would be on the United States Olympic baseball team who would win the bronze medal. He would be traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2013, winning the Cy Young as well as ending the Bambino Curse in 2016.
Gerrit Cole Waited Until The Time Was Right To Sign An MLB Contract
The New York Yankees selected the pitcher in the first round while attended Orange Lutheran High School. Cole opted not to sign, pitching three seasons at UCLA before being taken with the first overall pick of the 2011 Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Two years later, Cole reached the majors going 59-42 with a steady 3.37 ERA. Interestingly enough, the Yankees discussed trading for Cole from the Pirates, but the Bucs opted for a player package from the Houston Astros.