Thursday, June 11, 2009

Two Sport Yanks

Yesterday we talked a bit about Dave Winfield, a man who came out of the University of Minnesota in 1973 and was taken in the MLB, NFL, NBA, and ABA drafts.

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. 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.
Jay already talked about Slade Heathcott's football pedigree and I'm sure there are more still; feel free to leave them in the comments if you can't think of others.

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).


  1. I kind of liked Charlie Ward on the Knicks. The '99 team was my last fond memory of the Knicks and Childs and Ward being the PG tandem, it is hard for me to have anything but fond memories.

  2. I had long stopped following the NBA at that point. I thought overall that Ward did not have a very good career for the Knickerbockers.

    Thoughts on the BC QB situation? Gripp? Joe? Bueller?

  3. Thoughts on the BC QB situation??? I think I am going to have to find another way to occupy my Saturday's come the fall!

    Seriously though, I hope they just put the guy out there who they think has the most potential long term and suffer through it.

  4. Given the way the TV schedule is shaping up this year, we're going to have to find another way to spend our Saturday's anyway. Helloooooo

    I'm glad Davis is gone. As you know, I couldn't stand him. Good riddance I say. If your response to academic difficulty is to pack it up and transfer, you don't have the type of character I want under center for my team anyway. Davis should have taken a lesson from B.J. Raji. Ever to Excel.

    It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out. I imagine we'll see at least 3 different guys at QB over the course of the year unless someone really separates himself from the pack. Thankfully we have some sort of stud recruit committed to next year's class already.

  5. I am a frequent poster at Eagle Insider where many of the frequent posters were against Davis, including naming him "cesspool." I was respectful for what he did the last drive against Wake Forest (Actually respectful of Rich Gunnell) and for what he did against Maryland in the clincher to get to the ACCCG. I cut him some slack for being a Redshirt Frosh and would have supported him this year (with more expereince under his belt). During the season, I wanted him over Crane based on the fact that he couldn't have been worse than Crane and was younger.

    The fact that he had academic problems when he had the leg up on Boek and Tuggle shows great immaturity. Good riddance.

    This year, I say play Tuggle all the way. Let's see him gain some experience. No matter what, it will be a tough season without Herzy and McLaughlin. I expect a 6-6 season.

    TOBy and Jags have obviously fucked us with their horrible QB recruiting (especially given the high visibility of Matty Ice), but Spaz and his staff have done well so far. Boisture is obviously the future. Anyone who starts this year is just a placeholder.

  6. Joe - Davis did pull a great drive out of his ass when it was needed against Wake (with help from Gunnell) - but it was Herzy and the defense that won that game. He was good enough against the Terps - but other than that, he was awful. He looked scared out there.

    Just curious - after watching Davis, did you still prefer him to Crane?

    I think this year may be pretty bad, I just hope people cut Spaz some slack. Whether or not he was the right choice (and I guess he was) whatever happens right now isn't all on him.

    I don't harbor any ill will towards TOB. I thought his staff did a good job of recruiting. Jags not so much. We'll see where that leaves the program for the next couple years.

  7. It is common knowledge that Toby gave up recruiting after he did not land the Washington job. His only QB recruit after that? Ross Applegate. That is the reason for the BC QB SNAFU.

    After watching Davis, I much preferred Crane and, dare I speculate, an ACCCG victory might have been had with Crane under center.

    Despite him being like my fourth choice, I was an ardent Spaz defender when many were ready to give up on BC Football. He has already done a tremendous job recruiting. Given the aforementioned lack of a QB, Herzy and McLaughlin, I hope he does not get thrown under the bus by fans.

  8. Switching gears to BC baseball for a second, the Eagles have had four players drafted through two days.

    Catcher Tony Sanchez went fourth overall to the Pirates. Probably a bit higher than he should have gone, but the Pirates apparently took him because he was highly signable. There were even some accusations that they had worked out a deal pre-draft, which would be in violation of the rules. Still, it's nice to have a top 10 pick for the school after Ryan and Raji have done it in the NFL draft.

    Mike Belfiore went 45th overall to the D-backs. I'm very happy he got picked here. He was a projected 2nd round pick, but many feared he would drop after being left in for 9.2 IP and 129 pitches in the 25 inning game against Texas.

    The Astros took both JB MacDonald and Barry Butera on day two.

  9. Thanks to Mike Axisa's draft round up at RAB, I just found out that Yanks spent this year's 48th round pick on former West Virginia QB Pat White.