In 1989, you couldn't flip a channel, open a magazine, or drive down the highway without being greeted with two simple words: "Bo Knows..." Bo Jackson, of course, played outfield for the Royals, and running-back for the Raiders and the truly astounding thing is that he was an All Star in both sports. Jackson's passion was baseball, where he belted 32 homeruns, with 105 rbi, and averaged .256 in 1989, and 28 homeruns, 78 rbi, and an average of .272 in 1990. Football was his "hobby," even though he was awarded with the coveted Heisman Trophy in college. Jackson was at the pinnacle of his career in both sports by 1991 when he injured his hip playing football, essentially putting an end to both careers.
Other Multi-Talented Athletes:
-The first is George "Papa Bear" Halas. Halas is best known for his many contributions to the Chicago Bears franchise, and for bringing football into professional league status. However, in 1919, he was a New York Yankee and pitched a total of 12 games. Why professional baseball? There was no such thing as professional football at the time. Halas changed all that.
-Philadelphia Athletics catcher Jim Castiglia only played three years of baseball in 16 total games. What is surprising about Castiglia is that he was a decent running back for the Philadelphia Eagles when he simply walked away from the sport in 1942 in order to pursue a career in baseball. He returned to football in 1945, but he did leave baseball with a .388 batting average (7 hits out of 18 at bats).
-Chuck Conners, yes the Chuck Conners of Rifleman fame was on the very first Boston Celtics team in 1946. In their first game Conners shattered the backboard, becoming the first player in basketball history to do so. In 1947 he quit basketball to join the Brooklyn Dodgers, and was promptly traded to the Cubs, where he only played 66 games as a first baseman.
-Dick Groat averaged 25 points per game for Duke University's basketball team. In 1952, Groat was drafted to play professionally for the Fort Wayne Pistons. With them he only played in 11 games. With the Pittsburg Pirates that same year, he played in 95 games, earning a .284 average and 109 hits. Groat was drafted by the army in 1952 and left both sports until the end of his service in 1955. He tried to return to the Pistons, but they didn't want him. The Pirates did, however, and Groat went on to become an MVP for the team, and helped them win the World Series in 1960.
-Gene Conley has the distinction of being the only player to win a championship game in two sports. In 1957, the All Star Conley pitched for the Milwaukee Braves when they won the World Series. From 1959 to 1961, Conley helped the Boston Celtics win three NBA titles.
-Second basemen Danny Ainge was only in college when he played for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1979-1981. Ainge, however, earned his recognition throughout the '80s as a guard for the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and Portland Trialblazers.
-Shortly after Jackson's meteoric media rise, there was "Neon Deion" Sanders, the brash and arrogant cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons who also happened to play baseball. "Prime Time" earned his accolades in football, where he is still considered to be one of the best cornerbacks of all time. In his 11 year baseball career, Sanders averaged .263, but only hit a total of 39 home runs. Unlike Jackson, he never reached All Star status in both sports. He did, however, lead the Braves to three National League Championships, and a World Series title.
-Most recently, there was the Marlin's third baseman, Josh Booty. He was drafted straight out of high school in 1994, and played for the Marlins during their 1997 World Series win. He spent most of his baseball career in the minors, so he quit in 1998, and returned to college to play football. After college, he earned a spot as a backup quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.
-Oh yeah, in 1994 some guy named Michael Jordan retired from basketball and earned a spot on the White Sox farm system. I wonder whatever happened to that guy?