We’ve all seen the Bo Jackson highlights, we’ve all heard about the time that Deion Sanders played for the Falcons and the Braves on the same day. What I bet you didn’t know is that some of the current stars of the NFL used to hit dingers on the diamond. Some have even dabbled in Major League life and have appeared in minor league and spring training games. With the MLB All-Star festivities just a couple of days away, let’s take a look at some of the best hitters and pitchers on the gridiron.
Patrick Mahomes (MLB Comp: Lance McCullers)
Following in his dad’s footsteps, Patrick Mahomes was the ace pitcher of his high school varsity team. His dad, Pat Mahomes, was a long-time MLB relief pitcher and a 2000 National League champion with the Mets. Patrick was a pretty highly touted prospect in Texas, ranking in the 300s in the country. He once tossed a no-hitter in a playoff game against current White Sox phenom Michael Kopech. Mahomes’ team would go on to win 1-0. Out of High School, Mahomes was drafted in the 37th round by the Detroit Tigers. Kopech has since said that he believes the Chiefs QB would be in MLB if he stuck with baseball. However, I don’t think Patrick regrets his decision to play in the NFL instead.
Golden Tate (MLB Comp: Ramon Laureano)
Tate is actually playing professional baseball right now! He plays center field for the Port Angeles Lefties, an independent league team. Tate was drafted to MLB twice. First in 2007 by Arizona and again in 2010 by the Giants out of Notre Dame. There, the former-NFL receiver hit .318 with 16 stolen bases and 51 runs scored in 73 starts. Unlike Mahomes, Tate played baseball past his freshman year of college. But like Mahomes, I doubt he regrets making a name for himself on the turf.
Shaq Thompson (MLB Comp: Brett Phillips)
The Carolina linebacker was a baseball star before he starred in pads. He played for 2 years on his high school varsity team in Sacramento. His senior season was incredible. He played 23 games, he hit .305 with 13 extra-base hits and 5 runs batted in in 66 plate appearances. Thompson was drafted out of high school in the 18th round by the Boston Red Sox. He accepted the invitation to play pro ball and debuted that summer for the Gulf League Red Sox. He had 39 at-bats and struck out 37 times. Safe to say he made the right decision.
Tom Brady (MLB Comp: Yadier Molina)
The NFL GOAT might’ve never been in the NFL at all. In high school, he dominated on the diamond. in 2 years, he launched 8 home runs with 44 RBIs. Brady was a defensive machine too. Behind the plate, he called every pitch and threw out runners at a 45% clip (that’s really good). Like Thompson, Brady was drafted in the 18th round by the Washington Nationals, then the Montreal Expos. 7 Super Bowls and 3 MVPs later, it looks like Tom made the right choice.
AJ Brown (MLB Comp: Victor Reyes)
The newly minted Philadelphia Eagle was once a San Diego Padre. Brown had great skill on the diamond, hitting .270 with 21 RBIs and pitching his way to a sub-2 ERA. But it was his athleticism that got him noticed. When a Padres scout came to a high school game of his, he was astonished by the pure speed and strength that AJ possessed. The scout described Brown’s ability as “watching a man play with boys.” Now, the receiver is one of the best young route runners in the NFL and has an exciting future in Philadelphia.
— AJ Brown (@1kalwaysopen_) January 26, 2022
Josh Allen (MLB Comp: Shohei Ohtani)
While it may be a bit extreme to compare him to one of the greatest athletes to step foot on the diamond, Josh Allen could be the most impressive out of this bunch. Allen played 3 years as a varsity starter and he flat-out dominated. At the plate, he hit .352 with 24 extra-base hits and 75 runs batted in while collecting 29 stolen bases on 29 attempts. On the mound, he was even better. He pitched in 21 games and started 13 of them. He posted a 2.05 ERA while striking out 76 out of the 84 batters that he faced. Maybe he could’ve been going toe-to-toe with the baseball greats. I guess he’ll just have to settle for going toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.
So there you have it, diamonds or dimes, leather or pigskin, laces or seams, a lot of your favorite gridiron heroes once stepped up to the plate. What could’ve happened if we were watching Patrick Mahomes pitching for the Tigers? Or Tom Brady catching Randy Johnson? The world may never know.