What If Tom Brady Chose Baseball?
In the spirit of Super Bowl Sunday, it’s not that difficult to draw connections between baseball and football. Anyone who grew up playing and watching sports in America might have always loved the seasonal components of each game. The two sports run on opposing schedules, but cross over at times. As the NFL season comes to a close, MLB teams will report to Spring Training over the next couple weeks. And when the MLB Postseason is in full swing, the NFL is just picking up.
You don’t have to go too far back to remember a few two sport athletes who went pro in both MLB and the NFL. There was Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan who split time between MLB and NFL teams for many years. There were multipurpose stadiums where you can recall the football field being painted over the infield. And yes, there were two sport high school and college athletes that had to make hard decisions between the sports. Quarterbacks Dan Marino (4th Round) and John Elway (18th Round) who were drafted in 1979 MLB Draft by the Royals. There’s Kyler Murray, of the Arizona Cardinals, who was drafted 9th Overall in the 2018 Draft by the Oakland A’s, but opted out to enter the NFL Draft the following season. Super Bowl QB Patrick Mahomes was a stellar baseball player himself and son of the MLB pitcher, Pat Mahomes.
There’s a whole lot of “what ifs?” with could have been MLB players who opted for the NFL. But, perhaps none of more interesting than Tom Brady. Brady’s baseball connection goes a lot deeper than his work with pitching coach, Tom House.
Expos Last Prospect
Yes, the seven time Super Bowl Champ was drafted in the 18th Round of the 1995 MLB Draft (507 Overall). But, unlike most ballplayers turned QBs, Brady was a catcher. In fact, recently there’s been an incredible number of posts on social media informing us that Tom Brady was the last athlete in pro sports to be drafted by the Expos. The franchise moved from Montreal to Washington DC in 2004.
As a high school senior, Brady was named to the All-West Catholic Athletic League all-star team. In his two years on varsity, Brady posted a .311 batting average and hit 8 homers. His work was certainly enough to catch the eye of MLB scouts. Keep in mind, Brady wasn’t a top pick in the NFL Draft. He went in the 5th Round.
So what would have happened if Tom Brady had pursued his baseball career rather than football? How might that have impacted his career performance? And how would it have changed the course of history in the NFL and MLB? Brady got his big break in pro football when Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury in 2001. However, the 199th overall pick out of Michigan could have foregone his college scholarship and grinded out his path through minor league baseball.
Tom Brady has probably been the biggest household name in pro sports over the past couple of decades. He’s also known for his dedication to health and physical fitness. As a catcher, he would have had the most physically demanding role on the field. So, who’s to say that his dedication and talent wouldn’t have resulted in excellence on the diamond? Brady would he entered baseball during the reigns of two of the greatest catchers to ever play the game; Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez. His career would have run parallel to the career as potential future Hall of Famer, Joe Mauer. Mauer debuted in MLB in 2004, whereas Brady would have likely came up by 1999 or 2000.
For the sake of the argument, I am going to say Brady’s baseball career would have also been a huge success. In 2002 and 2003, the Expos went 83-79. During this time period, Brady led the Patriots to Super Bowl wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004. Those Expos teams were managed by the legendary Frank Robinson and included Hall of Fame Slugger Vladimir Guerrero. A successful Expos team in the early 2000s may or may not have prevented a franchise move to DC. However, a Brady/Guerrero tandem might have attracted more high profile talent to the team as they moved to America’s capital. Guerrero left the Expos and signed with the Angels prior to the 2004 season. Maybe, Brady would have followed Guerrero out to Anaheim? The Angels won the World Series in 2002 and won the AL West in 2004 and 2005. Those Angels teams could have captured multiple World Series rings in that time frame.
Brady Behind the Dish
While it’s only hypothetical that a Tom Brady baseball career would have produced the same results as his career in the NFL, it’s not that great of a stretch. One of the greatest athletes of all-time very well could have channeled his talent and determination into a career as a catcher rather than a quarterback. In this scenario, perhaps Brady could have helped build the Expos/Nationals (or Angels) into a dynasty, like Johnny Bench with the Big Red Machine. This is one of the biggest “what ifs” in sports history.
Today is February 12th and it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Within the next week, pitchers and catchers will have reported to Spring Training, college and high school baseball (here in FL) will have already thrown their first pitch of the season. Yes, baseball has arrived!