Dave Winfield, Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders were great multi-sport athletes. Will we ever see another professional multi-sport athlete?
Dave Winfield was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. His 22 year career on the baseball diamond, which included 12 All-Star game appearances, 7 Gold Glove Awards, 6 Silver Slugger Awards and one World Series Championship (Toronto Blue Jays in 1992) solidified his 1977 rookie year review as a five tool player (hit, hit with power, field, throw, run). Yet, perhaps not commonly known, Winfield’s athletic skills, extended well beyond America’s favorite pastime. The 6’6” Winfield, played both baseball (College Baseball Hall of Fame) and basketball at the University of Minnesota. He was eventually drafted by the San Diego Padres as the 4th overall baseball pick and by both professional basketball leagues, the NBA (Atlanta Hawks) and the ABA (Utah Stars). Despite never playing for the Golden Gophers of Minnesota on the gridiron, Winfield was a draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings. In 2004, ESPN, despite never playing more than one sport professionally, named Winfield as the third best all-around athlete of all time. OK, now go look up who was first and second.
The two-sport professional athletes who most immediately come to mind are Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Each with foremost prowess on the gridiron and secondarily in the sport made famous by Babe Ruth. Bo and Deion were great athletes. The former possessing a combination of speed and power, with comparisons to the great Jim Brown while carrying the pigskin and Mickey Mantle when launching a prodigious blast out of the ballpark. Bo was the Heisman Trophy winner in 1985 while playing for Auburn University. Deion Sanders was a three sport athlete at Florida State University; starring for the Seminoles in football, baseball and track. Deion was the fifth overall selection (Atlanta Falcons) in the 1989 NFL Draft, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1994, an 8 time First Team All-Pro, and was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2011, an honor which was likewise bestowed on him by the College Football Hall of Fame in the same year. Sanders was proficient as a Major League baseball outfielder and hitter, taking advantage of his best asset, speed. ”Prime Time,” a moniker befitting his skills, is the only athlete to have participated in both a Super Bowl and a World Series.
There have been several other two-sport professional athletes, among them Dave DeBusschere a stalwart on the New York Knicks basketball Championship teams of the early seventies and a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox; Gene Conley, who played professionally for several basketball and baseball teams in the 50’s and 60’s (including both the Celtics and Red Sox); and of course if we count a professional minor league baseball tenure, perhaps the greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan.
But what about a three-sport professional athlete? There has never been one……until now! Stay tuned for LouCreative Inc’s sports fiction novel, Athlete For Hire, with a unique concept of a three sport (football, baseball, basketball) college senior, who is sought after by the creative owner of the three professional sports teams in Atlanta (Falcons, Braves and Hawks), to play for all three of his teams.