List of athletes who played in Major League Baseball and the National Football League

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Fewer than 70 athletes are known to have played in both Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Football League (NFL). This includes two Heisman Trophy winners (Vic Janowicz and Bo Jackson)[1] and seven members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Red Badgro,[2] Paddy Driscoll,[3] George Halas,[4] Ernie Nevers,[5] Ace Parker,[6] Jim Thorpe,[7] and Deion Sanders).[8] However, none of the players on the list has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1920, the inaugural season of the NFL, 11 veterans of MLB (including George Halas and Jim Thorpe) became the first athletes to accomplish the feat. Since 1970, only seven athletes have done so, including Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Jackson was the first athlete to be selected as an All-Star in both MLB and the NFL. Sanders holds the longevity record, having appeared in 641 MLB games and 189 NFL games.

Overview[edit]

Since the formation of the National Football League (NFL), fewer than 70 athletes are known to have reached the highest level of play in both sports.[9]

Early years[edit]

Christy Mathewson (MLB HOF) played Pro Football from 1898–1902. More than two-thirds of the athletes who played at the top level of both sports did so in the early years of the NFL during the 1920s and 1930s. The 1920 NFL season was the first in the league's history, and 11 veterans of Major League Baseball (MLB) participated in the inaugural campaign. The first group to appear in both sports included Jim Thorpe, a pioneer of professional football who began playing with the Canton Bulldogs in 1915. Thorpe was a Native American who grew up in the Sac and Fox Nation in Oklahoma. He was one of the most versatile athletes of his era, having won Olympic gold medals in 1912 for the pentathlon and decathlon and having also played professional basketball.[10][11] Thorpe played in MLB from 1913 to 1919 and in the NFL from 1920 to 1928. He was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[12][13]

The first group of MLB players to play in the NFL also included George Halas, who remained affiliated with the Chicago Bears as player, coach or owner from the 1920s until his death in 1983,[14][15] Chuck Dressen, who later managed five Major League Baseball teams, including the Brooklyn Dodgers, from 1934 to 1966.[16][17] and eight others (Lyle Bigbee, George Brickley, Garland Buckeye, Ralph Capron, Paul Des Jardien, Paddy Driscoll, Al Pierotti, and Tom Whelan).

Bert Kuczynski is one of a very small number of athletes to play Major League Baseball and in the NFL in the same year. In his senior year at Penn Kuczynski was on the NBC/Look Magazine 1942 All-American team as an end. After graduation in May 1943 he pitched in six games for the Philadelphia Athletics and played for the Detroit Lions in the 1943 NFL season. After two years in the Navy, in 1946 he played for the Philadelphia Eagles. While working on his master's degree in education at Penn, he was an assistant coach in the football program.[18]

In 1954, former Ohio State star Vic Janowicz became the first Heisman Trophy winner to appear in both MLB and the NFL. After winning the Heisman in 1950, Janowicz played for baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1953 to 1954 and football for the Washington Redskins from 1954 to 1955.[19]

Modern players[edit]

Bo Jackson in 2004

In 1987, Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson played for both the Los Angeles Raiders and the Kansas City Royals, becoming the first player to play in both MLB and the NFL since the 1960s.[20] Jackson played eight years in Major League Baseball and four years in the NFL.[21][22] Jackson was also the first athlete to be named an All-Star in both sports.[23] His versatility led Nike, Inc. to develop its "Bo Knows" ad campaign in which Jackson was envisioned attempting to take up a litany of other sports, including tennis, golf, hockey, luge, auto racing, and even playing blues music with Bo Diddley, who scolded Jackson by telling him, "You don't know diddley!"[24]

In 1989, two years after Jackson's accomplishment, Deion Sanders played baseball for the New York Yankees and football for the Atlanta Falcons. Sanders had greater longevity playing in both sports than any other athlete in history, competing in Major League Baseball from 1989 to 2001 and in the NFL from 1989 to 2005. He led the National League with 14 triples in 1992 and finished second in the league in stolen bases twice: 1994 (38) and 1997 (56). Sanders also played in the 1992 World Series with the Atlanta Braves, hitting .533 in the series with five stolen bases in five attempts. He had a career batting average of .263, with 186 stolen bases and 43 triples in a nine-year career. In the NFL he was selected to play in eight Pro Bowls as a defensive back, and won two Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. Sanders had 53 career interceptions, returning 9 for touchdowns, and caught 60 passes for 784 yards and three touchdowns as a wide receiver. He was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[25][26]

Brian Jordan was the last athlete to play in both professional leagues . Jordan began his professional career in the NFL, playing three seasons as a safety for the Atlanta Falcons from 1989 to 1991. In his last two seasons in the NFL Jordan started 30 of 32 games and had 5 interceptions and 4 sacks and appeared in the 1991 playoffs with the Falcons.[27] In 1992, Jordan switched to baseball and played 15 years as an outfielder from 1992 to 2006, mostly for the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves. He had a career batting average of .282 with 1454 hits and 184 home runs. He was selected as an All-Star in 1999 and played in the World Series that same year. He appeared in post-season a total of five times, hitting six home runs in 38 games.[28]

The last player to accomplish the feat was Drew Henson, who was a third baseman for the New York Yankees from 2002 to 2003 and a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions in 2004 and 2008.[29][30]

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is in spring training with the New York Yankees as of February 2018.

In total, only seven players have accomplished the feat since 1970. They are Jackson, Sanders, Jordan, Henson, Chad Hutchinson, D.J. Dozier, and Matt Kinzer.

Notable omissions[edit]

Cal Hubbard is the only person to be inducted into both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played in the NFL from 1927 to 1936 and later served as an umpire in Major League Baseball. As he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as an umpire, and never appeared as a player, he is not included on the list.[31][32]

Greasy Neale is another person who gained fame in both sports but who is omitted from the list. Neale played eight years in Major League Baseball, mostly for the Cincinnati Reds, from 1916 to 1924.[33] He also played for the Dayton Triangles in 1918 before the NFL was established. He later served as the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1941 to 1950 and has been inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.[34][35] However, he never appeared as a player in an official NFL game and is therefore not included in the list.

List of players[edit]

George Halas played for the New York Yankees in 1919 before starting his 63-year affiliation with the Chicago Bears.
Former Stanford All-American Ernie Nevers played MLB and in the NFL during the 1920s.
Deion Sanders appeared in a record 641 MLB games and 189 NFL games.
Former Michigan All-American Ernie Vick was a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals for four years and played for three NFL teams.

The following athletes have appeared in at least one game in both Major League Baseball and the National Football League.[9]

Name MLB teams MLB Games Played[36] NFL teams NFL Games Played[37]
Cliff Aberson Chicago Cubs (1947–1949) 63 Green Bay Packers (1946) 10
Red Badgro St. Louis Browns (1929–1930) 143 New York Yankees (1927–1928)
New York Giants (1930–1935)
Brooklyn Dodgers (1936)
94
Norm Bass Kansas City A's (1961–1963) 65 Denver Broncos (1964) 1
Charlie Berry Philadelphia A's (1927, 1934–1936, 1938)
Boston Red Sox (1928–1932)
Chicago White Sox (1932–1933)
709 Pottsville Maroons (1925–1926) 20
Larry Bettencourt St. Louis Browns (1928–1932) 168 Green Bay Packers (1933) 2
Lyle Bigbee Philadelphia A's (1920)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1921)
17 Milwaukee Badgers (1922) 3
George Brickley Philadelphia A's (1913) 5 Cleveland Tigers (1920) 7
Tom Brown Washington Senators (1963) 61 Two teams (1964–1969) 71
Garland Buckeye Three teams (1918–1928) 108 Two teams (1920–1924) 40
Bruce Caldwell Two teams (1928, 1932) 25 New York Giants (1928) 10
Ralph Capron Two teams (1912–1913) 3 Chicago Tigers (1920) 1
Jim Castiglia Philadelphia A's (1942) 16 Three teams (1941–1948) 42
Chuck Corgan Brooklyn Robins (1925, 1927) 33 Three teams (1924–1927) 30
Paul Des Jardien Cleveland Indians (1916) 1 Chicago Tigers (1920) 9
D.J. Dozier New York Mets (1992) 25 Two teams (1987–1991) 43
Chuck Dressen Two teams (1925–1931) 646 Two teams (1920–1923) 12
Paddy Driscoll Chicago Cubs (1917) 13 Two teams (1920–1929) 118
Ox Eckhardt Two teams (1932, 1936) 24 New York Giants (1928) 11
Steve Filipowicz Two teams (1944–1948) 57 New York Giants (1945–1946) 21
Paul Florence New York Giants* (1926) 76 Chicago Cardinals (1920) 9
Walter French Philadelphia A's (1923–1929) 397 Two teams (1922, 1925) 10
Wally Gilbert Two teams (1928–1932) 591 Duluth Kelleys (1923–1926) 17
Norm Glockson Cincinnati Reds (1914) 7 Racine Legion (1922) 1
Frank Grube Two teams (1931–1936) 394 New York Yankees (1928) 11
Bruno Haas Philadelphia A's (1915) 6 Three teams (1921–1922) 11
Hinkey Haines New York Yankees (1923) 28 Two teams (1925–1931) 53
George Halas New York Yankees (1919) 12 Chicago Bears (1920–1928) 104
Carroll Hardy Four teams (1957–1967) 433 San Francisco 49ers (1955) 10
Drew Henson New York Yankees (2002–2003) 8 Two teams (2004, 2008) 9
Chad Hutchinson St. Louis Cardinals (2001) 3 Two teams (2002–2004) 15[38][39]
Bo Jackson Three teams (1986–1994) 694 Los Angeles Raiders (1987–1990) 38
Lefty Jamerson Boston Red Sox (1924) 1 Hartford Blues (1926) 3
Vic Janowicz Pittsburgh Pirates (1953–1954) 83 Washington Redskins (1954–1955) 22
Rex Johnston Pittsburgh Pirates (1964) 14 Pittsburgh Steelers (1960) 12
Brian Jordan Four teams (1992–2006) 1,456 Atlanta Falcons (1989–1991) 36
Matt Kinzer Two teams (1989–1990) 9 Detroit Lions (1987) 1
Bert Kuczynski Philadelphia A's (1943) 6 Two teams (1943, 1946) 5
Pete Layden St. Louis Browns (1948) 41 New York Yankees (1948–1950) 31
Jim Levey St. Louis Browns (1930–1933) 440 Pittsburgh Pirates (1934–1936) 13
Dean Look Chicago White Sox (1961) 3 New York Titans (1962) 1
Waddy Macphee New York Giants* (1922) 2 Providence Steam Roller (1926) 10
Howard Maple Washington Senators (1932) 44 Chicago Cardinals (1930) 8
Walt Masters Three teams (1931, 1937–1939) 8 Two teams (1936, 1943–1944) 12
John Mohardt Detroit Tigers (1922) 5 Four teams (1922–1925) 42
Ernie Nevers St. Louis Browns (1926–1928) 44 Two teams (1926–1931) 54
Ossie Orwoll Philadelphia A's (1928–1929) 94 Milwaukee Badgers (1926) 3
Ace Parker Philadelphia A's (1937–1938) 94 Three teams (1937–1946) 68
John Perrin Boston Red Sox (1921) 4 Hartford Blues (1926) 6[40][41]
Al Pierotti Boston Braves (1920–1921) 8 Seven teams (1920–1929) 46
Pid Purdy Two teams (1926–1929) 181 Green Bay Packers (1926–1927) 17
Dick Reichle Boston Red Sox (1922–1923) 128 Milwaukee Badgers (1923) 6
Deion Sanders Four teams (1989–2001) 641 Four teams (1989–2005) 188
Johnny Scalzi Boston Braves (1931) 2 Brooklyn Dodgers (1931) 7
Red Smith New York Giants* (1927) 1 Five teams (1927–1931) 37
Evar Swanson Two teams (1929–1934) 518 Three teams (1924–1927) 27
Jim Thorpe Three teams (1913–1919) 289 Multiple teams (1920–1928) 52
Andy Tomasic New York Giants* (1949) 2 Pittsburgh Steelers (1942, 1946) 15
Luke Urban Boston Braves (1927–1928) 50 Buffalo All-Americans (1921–1923) 32
Joe Vance Two teams (1935–1938) 15 Brooklyn Dodgers (1931) 11
Ernie Vick St. Louis Cardinals (1922–1926) 57 Two teams (1925–1927) 27
Tom Whelan Boston Braves (1920) 1 Two teams (1920–1921) 20
Mike Wilson Pittsburgh Pirates (1921) 5 Two teams (1922–1924) 17
Hoge Workman Boston Red Sox (1924) 11 Two teams (1924, 1931–1932) 19
Ab Wright Two teams (1935, 1944) 138 Frankfort Yellow Jackets (1930) 4
Tom Yewcic Detroit Tigers (1957) 1 Boston Patriots (1961–1966) 77
Russ Young St. Louis Browns (1931) 16 Dayton Triangles (1925) 4
Joe Zapustas Philadelphia A's (1933) 2 New York Giants (1933) 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Heisman Winners". Heisman Trophy. Archived from the original on August 1, 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  2. ^ "Morris (Red) Badgro". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  3. ^ "John (Paddy) Driscoll". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  4. ^ "George Halas". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  5. ^ "Ernie Nevers". Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  6. ^ "Clarence (Ace) Parker". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  7. ^ "Jim Thorpe". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  8. ^ "Deion Sanders". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Baseball and Football Players". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved June 17, 2012.(Players not included on the Baseball Almanac list have independent citations to verify that they played in both Major League Baseball and the National Football League.)
  10. ^ "Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Century". ESPN Network. January 14, 2000. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  11. ^ "Jim Thorpe: All-Around Athlete and American Indian Advocate". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  12. ^ "Jim Thorpe Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  13. ^ "Jim Thorpe". Pro-Football-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  14. ^ "George Halas Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  15. ^ "George Halas". Pro-Football-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  16. ^ "Chuck Dressen Statistics and History". baseball-reference.com. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  17. ^ "Chuck Dressen". Pro-Football-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  18. ^ Penn University Archives UPT 50 K95
  19. ^ "Vic Janowicz". College Football Hall of Fame. Football Foundation. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  20. ^ "Jackson will run as Raider". The Milwaukee Journal. July 13, 1987. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  21. ^ "Bo Jackson Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  22. ^ "Bo Jackson". Pro-Football-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  23. ^ "Bo knows stardom and disappointment". ESPN Classic. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  24. ^ "Best Spots of the 90's". AdWeek. March 20, 2000. Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  25. ^ "Deion Sanders Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  26. ^ "Deion Sanders". Pro-Football-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  27. ^ "Brian Jordan". Pro-Football-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  28. ^ "Brian Jordan Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  29. ^ "Drew Henson". Pro-Football-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  30. ^ "Drew Henson Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  31. ^ "Cal Hubbard". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  32. ^ "Cal Hubbard". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  33. ^ "Greasy Neale". Baseball-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  34. ^ "Earle (Greasy) Neale". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  35. ^ "Greasy Neale". College Football Hall of Fame. Football Foundation. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  36. ^ Statistics for MLB games played are from Baseball-Reference.com.
  37. ^ Statistics for NFL games played are from Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  38. ^ "Chad Hutchinson Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  39. ^ "Chad Hutchinson". Pro-Football-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  40. ^ "John Perrin Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  41. ^ "Jack Perrin". Pro-Football-Reference.com. USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Retrieved June 17, 2012.