Tonight, three-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady led the New England Patriots offense onto the field for a record ninth time in a conference championship game. The 37-year old quarterback is destined for Canton following his playing days, but not many remember that the star quarterback was actually selected in the 18th round of the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft by the Montreal Expos.
Tom Brady made a name for himself when he burst onto the scene to lead the Patriots to a victory in the Super Bowl in 2001. He helped lead his team to championships again in 2003 and 2004. Since then, Brady hasn’t been able to raise the Lombardi trophy, but has established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, winning two league MVP awards. Clearly Brady made the right choice pursuing a football career, but his baseball story is worth telling.
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The 6’4’’ Brady spent two seasons as a catcher at Junipero Serra, appearing in 61 total games, smashing 8 homers and owning a .311 career batting average. Brady’s arm from behind the plate drew the eye of scouts, although some shied away because of his commitment to play football at the University of Michigan. The Patriots star was a left-handed hitter, but similar to what we have seen on the gridiron, he did not have a great deal of speed.
Montreal brought Brady to Olympic Stadium for batting practice during a road trip to San Francisco during the summer of 1995. They knew they had something special and did what they could to reel him in. However, contract talks stalled as Brady was adamant about heading to college, and in hindsight, the decision worked out just fine.
The Expos organization continued to court Brady throughout his days at Michigan, but it was to no avail. The New England Patriots selected the California native in the 6th round, 199th overall in the 2000 NFL draft and at that point, the chance of Tom Brady ever playing professional baseball pretty much went up in flames.
The 1995 Major League Baseball Draft also saw a handful of future NFL stars selected, including Daunte Culpepper and Lawyer Milloy. ESPN College Football analyst Danny Kanell was also drafted, by the New York Yankees in the 25th round. Among players who chose baseball, notable selections included Darin Erstad, selected number one overall by the California Angels, Kerry Wood (4th, Chicago Cubs), Todd Helton (8th, Colorado Rockies), and Roy Halladay (17th, Toronto Blue Jays).
The sports landscape has changed significantly in the past twenty years, but we have to wonder how the history of the National Football League and Major League Baseball would be different if Tom Brady had decided to sign with the Montreal Expos in the summer of 1995.