By now you’ve certainly heard that former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has signed a minor league deal to play baseball with the New York Mets. Despite having only recently reported to the Mets’ fall instructional league, Tebow already has a top selling Mets jersey. Naturally, the folks at Topps are salivating and a plethora of “Future Star” baseball cards featuring Tebow are likely on the horizon.
Not since Michael Jordan has there been so much buzz about an athlete trying to make a go of it in the world of professional baseball. In fact, Jordan is still so beloved in Birmingham that his commemorative banner at Regions Field is probably twenty times larger than those of Hall of Fame ballplayers such as Frank Thomas and Reggie Jackson.
Here are some baseball cards that would look very nice next to Tebow’s in a collection of cross-over sports legends:
Michael Jordan – 1990 Upper Deck, #SP1
Quite possibly the greatest basketball player who ever lived, Michael Jeffrey Jordan took a year off from basketball in 1994 to ride the bus with the White Sox AA affiliate Birmingham Barons. The rumors continue to swirl as to what prompted this brief foray into baseball but what is clear is that Jordan did not perform well enough to warrant a spot on the roster. In 127 games, he slashed .202/.266/.556, hit only 3 home runs and stole 30 bases, while getting caught 18 times.
Deion Sanders – 1992 Upper Deck, #SP3
A Hall of Fame defensive back and return specialist, “Prime Time” is the only person who has ever played in both a Super Bowl and World Series. As a baseball player, Sanders lead the league with 14 triples in 1992, despite having only 303 at bats and stole 56 bases in 1997. For his nine-year career, Sanders put up a slash line of .263/.319/.392 and a career bWAR of 5.5.
Dave DeBusschere – 1964 Topps, #247
DeBusschere averaged 16.1 points per game for his thirteen years as a Hall of Fame NBA forward. He pitched for the White Sox for two seasons and posted a 3-4 record and a respectable 3.09 ERA over 24 appearances in 1963. He also collected his only major league hit, a single, in 1963.
Danny Ainge – 1981 Topps Traded, #727
Ainge was an All-Star with the Boston Celtics during their 1980s dynasty, winning the NBA title twice. His baseball career was not quite as accomplished, however. Ainge appeared in 211 games from 1979 through 1981 for the Toronto Blue Jays and slashed .220/.264/.269.
Eric Lindros – 1990 Score Update, #100T
Rumored to have been nothing more than a publicity stunt, the Blue Jays had budding NHL star Eric Lindros in for a tryout…and dressed him in full uniform. Lindros went on to lead the NHL in scoring in 1995 and scored 372 goals in his Hall of Fame career.
Brian Jordan – 1998 Topps, #287
Jordan was so coveted as a baseball player that the St. Louis Cardinals gave him a $1.7 million bonus in 1992 in exchange for his promise to retire from the NFL. In his brief career as a defensive back with the Falcons, Jordan was a Pro Bowl alternate. As a baseball player, Jordan had a stellar fifteen-year career, slashing .282/.333/.455 with 184 home runs.
Bo Jackson – 1987 Classic, #15
Jackson’s exploits as a superhuman were well documented as he destroyed linebackers (right Brian Bosworth?) and baseballs, alike, for the Raiders and Royals in the late 1980s. As a running back, Jackson averaged over 5 yards per carry and lit up defenses with several touchdown runs in excess of 80 yards. As an outfielder, Jackson run up walls and had a 1989 season that saw him club 32 home runs, slash .256/.310/.495 and be named MVP of the All-Star game.
Chuck Connors – 1985 Baseball Cards Magazine, #No Number
If you are old enough to remember Chuck Connors, it is probably as an actor. Connors most famously portrayed Lucas McCain on “The Rifleman” in the 1950s and 1960s. Connors was also a gifted athlete and played for the Boston Celtics in the 1940s, averaging 4.5 points per game in the 53 contests in which he played. Playing for the Chicago Cubs Pacific Coast League affiliate in 1951, Connors was a beast, slashing .321/.394/.572 with 22 home runs in 98 games. After his call-up in 1951, Connors was not able to replicate the success and hit only .239/.282/.303 with a pair of home runs in 66 games with the big club.