With all of the fuss surrounding the 2014 NFL Draft, it made me think of all of the athletes that have been drafted not only to play ball in one sport, but for two or more. One of those that came across my screen was that of John Stearns.
Stearns was a four-time All-Star catcher in the 1970’s and 1980’s. After he retired from playing, he became the Mariners catching coordinator and was at one point the interim manager for the Mariners Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma.
He was asked to be Lloyd McClendon‘s third base coach this season, but he resigned prior to the start of the season after undergoing hernia surgery. He is now a scout with the club.
But back in 1973, Stearns was a two-sport star (catcher and defensive end) out of the University of Colorado. The Buffalo Bills selected him in the 17th round of the 1973 Draft. But the Philadelphia Phillies selected Stearns with the 2nd overall pick of the 1973 MLB Draft. Stearns chose baseball. Though he only played one game with the Phillies before spending his career with the New York Mets.
Coincidentally, Stearns wasn’t the only two-sport star taken in those drafts that year. Dave Winfield was selected after Stearns in both drafts. Taken in the 17th round by the Minnesota Vikings – despite not playing college football – six picks after Stearns was taken. Winfield was also taken in the first-round of the MLB Draft, with the 4th overall pick by the San Diego Padres.
Winfield is actually the only person to have ever been drafted by four professional sports. Adding the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and Utah Stars (ABA) to the list.
For many people, they can look back at a certain point in their lives and wonder; what if I went the other way? John Stearns has asked himself that question many times I’m sure. But whichever way he would’ve chosen, he got to be a professional ballplayer.
I can’t imagine being forced to choose between playing one or the other if I was talented enough to be drafted at both. But I guess we can’t all be Bo Jackson.