What if Tom Brady had decided to pursue baseball? – Yahoo Sports
A little less than 22 years ago, Tom Brady made a decision that is still reverberating as we approach the kickoff for Super Bowl LI.
It could be argued this decision changed the landscape of two sports, not just the one he’s famous for dominating, and the future of two franchises, one of which became the most successful in its sport, and the other which no longer exists in its previous form.
After starring in three sports at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif, the New England Patriots all-world quarterback had the opportunity to choose his path. Naturally, he was a star on the football team, where his play drew the attention of several major college programs. He was also a standout on the basketball team. Beyond that though, he was a star baseball player, following in the footsteps of Serra graduates Barry Bonds and Gregg Jeffries.
According to those who know Brady, the decision wasn’t really that difficult. His passion led him to football. He ultimately decided to play at the University of Michigan, where ironically he would split time at quarterback with another former baseball prospect Drew Henson.
Unfortunately for Henson, he couldn’t make it in either sport. As for Brady, he’s about to play in his seventh Super Bowl with an opportunity to win his fifth world championship. That would make him the most successful quarterback of all-time. The argument will also be made that he’s the greatest of all-time, but that’s a debate for a different time.
What we can safely assume is that baseball would not have treated him so well. But that’s not to say he wouldn’t have made an impact in our beloved sport. In fact, Brady was so impressive on the diamond that long-time MLB scout John Hughes talked the Montreal Expos into drafting the left-handed hitting catcher in the 18th round of the 1995 draft.
In a 2015 interview with MLB.com, Hughes added that had it not been obvious that Brady was going to pursue football, he would have been a fifth round selection. The irony there being that Brady would be drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft.
“I think he would have been a pro,” Hughes said. “He had all the intangibles. He could throw, left-handed power. There is no reason to think this guy couldn’t have been a big league catcher.”
“He looked like someone who belonged in a professional sports locker room,” Hughes said. “It was not like he was boastful or anything like that. I look at him on TV today and I’m like, ‘This is the same guy.’”
“To this day, in all my years of scouting, Tom is still the most impressive high school kid I’ve ever been around,” Hughes said. “Just the person, the way he carries himself. What you’re seeing now, obviously, he is more mature. But it’s not a drastic change. He just had this presence.”
Brady’s decision looks golden now. He’s earned fame, prestige, championships and more money than any one person knows what to do with. Aside from one devastating knee injury, he’s also remained remarkably healthy. Even now at age 39, he looks like he could play another four or five seasons.
Still, we can’t help but wonder what might have been had Brady made a different decision in 1995.
Would the Patriots still be a dynasty? Not likely.
Would Bill Belichick still be regarded as a coaching genius? Perhaps, but that was hardly his reputation before Brady came along.
Would the Expos still be in existence? Sadly, no. If Youppi couldn’t save them, no one player was going to keep them from relocating to Washington D.C.
Would Tom Brady be more famous than David Ross? This is a tough one. Fans love to love backup catchers. Great numbers aren’t required here, just engaging personalities. In that sense, it seems Brady has struggled to mesh with the common fan. Then again, maybe he would have signed with the Red Sox, won five World Series and made 12 All-Star teams.
Sadly, we’ll never know the answer to these questions. But you can bet there are a lot of players and coaches left in Brady’s wake that often wonder the same things.
Brady’s a great quarterback. There’s no doubt about that. But it’s amazing to think how many moments could have changed his path. The way things have played out not only make his decision to pursue football a personal life-changer, but the ultimate game-changer in sports history.
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