Though Winfield wasn't drafted by the Yankees, the team does have a history of taking multi-sport athletes. Part of that is a function of the fact that the players in question are world class athletes than can play multiple sports. Part of it could also be George Steinbrenner's well-documented fascination with football. As we are now in the final day of the 2009 draft, let's take a look back at some past Yankee draft picks who were multi-sport stars:
- Bo Jackson. Drafted in 1982 out of high school. Did not sign, and went on to Auburn University where he became one of the best college football players in history.
- John Elway. Arguably the greatest QB in NFL history, the Yankees spent their first pick on him in 1981. He spent the following summer at short-season A-ball in Oneonta, where Elway hit .318/.432/.464
- Deion Sanders - Taken in the 30th round in 1988, Sanders spent 71 unspectacular games with the Yankees in 1989 and 1990. Both years he departed the team mid-season to join the Atlanta Falcons. He would go on to decent success with the Braves, but is best remembered as one of the best shutdown corners, kick returners, and tackle-phobic players in NFL history.
- Tony Meola - The former goalie for the US national soccer team also had a tryout with the Jets as a place kicker in 1994. B-R.com has no record of him being drafted by the Yankees, but Wikipedia does.
- Shea Morenz - First round pick in 1995. A descendent of hockey Hall of Famer Howie Morenz, he was briefly the starting QB for the Texas Longhorns.
- Drew Henson - Third round pick in 1998. Henson was given a huge bonus to play baseball, and was still allowed to attend the University of Michigan, where at one point he was ahead of Tom Brady on the depth chart. He was part of the package used to acquire the hooker-loving Denny Neagle from the Reds in 2000. Eight months later the Yankees re-acquired him for Willie Mo Pena and gave him a huge contract to give up football. He was an absolute bust as a baseball player, and proved to be a bust when he attempted to return to football as well.
- Andrew Brackman - The 2007 First Rounder was also a center on the basketball team during his time at NC State.
- C.J. Henry - The 2005 first round pick was on the University of Memphis basketball team last year (no word on the legitimacy of his SAT scores) and has transfered to Kansas for this year.
- Charlie Ward -The Yankees drafted the 1993 Heisman winner in the 18th round in 1994, despite his not having played baseball since high school. He never signed. Knicks fans may wish he did.
Of course there are also those who have gone back to other sports after leaving baseball. Both Chris Weinke and Josh Booty returned to D1A college quarterbacking after washing out as baseball players. That was on my mind yesterday as Boston College announced they received a commitment from former Twins and Blue Jays minor league pitcher David Shinskie.
BC has exactly zero QBs on their roster who have thrown a pass at the collegiate level and Shinskie is not guaranteed anything. Still, I'd rather see Shinskie or any of the other untested QBs under center in the fall rather than the recently departed Dominique Davis. Save for a few drives, Davis was horrific in relief of Chris Crane last year, resembling a real life Willie Beamen, minus the repeated vomiting in the huddle and actually becoming good at some point. I hope Shinskie turns out to be more Weinke than Booty (sounds like there's a joke in there somewhere).