Baseball and football have a long history of competing for America’s greatest athletes. The MLB All-Super Bowl team honors current MLB players who also starred in football.
Imagine Mickey Mantle running the option for Oklahoma Sooners in the early 1950’s, he was offered a scholarship by legendary Sooners coach Bud Wilkinson. Hall of Famers Jim Rice, Harmon Killebrew and Ryne Sandberg were also offered football scholarships.
Other athletes went the football route. Legendary quarterback John Elway patrolled Damaschke Field as a right fielder for the Oneonta Yankees in the early 1980’s. His Hall of Fame counterpart Dan Marino was a fourth round pick of the Kansas City Royals, imagine Marino and George Brett as teammates at Kaufman Field in the mid 1980’s.
This year’s Super Bowl has a baseball angle, rifle armed San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick was an MLB draft pick after starring in three sports in high school. Another emerging young NFL quarterback, Russell Wilson played baseball at NC State and was a Colorado Rockies farmhand before leading the Seahawks to the playoffs.
Manager: Kirk Gibson Arizona Diamondbacks
An All-American receiver at Michigan State and a candidate for the College Football Hall of Fame. He led the Tigers and Dodgers to World Series titles as a player and the Diamondbacks to an NL West title as a manager.
Pitcher: Jeff Samardzija Chicago Cubs
Samardzija was a consensus All-American receiver for Notre Dame in 2005. He caught 27 touchdown passes from Brady Quinn in 2005 and 2006 seasons. He has a future as a top line starter for the Cubs.
Catcher: Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins
Mauer was twice the USA Today High School Football Player of the Year, he only won the baseball version of the award once. Bobby Bowden is probably still holding his football scholarship just in case.
First Base: Todd Helton Colorado Rockies
The best Rockie of all time was the last man to start at quarterback over a healthy Peyton Manning. Helton started the first half of the 1994 season at the University of Tennesse before Manning emerged. The Volunteer teammates remain close friends.
Second Base: Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds
The power/speed combination that has made Phillips a premier second baseman also made him a two sport star in high school. Phillips chose pro baseball over a baseball/football scholarship at his home state school, the University of Georgia.
The long time valuable utility man quarterbacked the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 1990’s. More impressively, he graduated from the Wharton School of Business at Penn, which is one of the elite business schools in the world.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez New York Yankees
Rodriguez takes the snap and hands to Edgerrin James. Could have happened, A Rod turned down a scholarship offer from his hometown Miami Hurricanes, opting to sign a pro baseball contract when he was the number one overall pick in 1993.
Outfielders: Adam Dunn Chicago White Sox
It’s really not hard imagining the hulking Dunn wearing burnt orange at the University of Texas. As a Longhorn, he redshirted his freshman year. He chose pro baseball when he was asked to switch to tight end from quarterback.
Carl Crawford: Los Angeles Dodgers
His recent injury history suggests that Crawford made the wise choice opting for baseball. He was a highly prized option quarterback from the Houston area. The University of Nebraska was his likely destination had he chosen pigskin.
Grady Sizemore: Free Agent
Signed a letter of intent to play running back at the University of Washington after starring in high school. He and future teammate Brandon Phillips would have formed quite a backfield.