John Smoltz’s recent attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open golf tournament stirred some thoughts. Though the former Atlanta Braves’ pitcher failed, it’s pretty well established that he’s a first-rate golfer. So who are some other great athletes who have excelled in more than one sport? And who’s the most versatile ever?
Michael Jordan — The NBA’s No. 3 all-time scorer and holder of six title rings also dabbled in baseball. After his father was murdered in 1993, Jordan played two seasons of minor-league baseball, with Birmingham, AL, and Scottsdale, AZ. The results were unremarkable.
Bo Jackson — The 1985 Heisman Trophy winner played four years in the NFL, scoring 16 touchdowns and averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He also became the first athlete to be named an All Star in two major sports, as he was the MVP in baseball’s 1989 All Star Game. He hit 141 home runs in his career.
Deion Sanders — Likely the flashiest two-sport athlete ever. “Neon Deion” was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL, with five teams. He also hit .263 and stole 186 bases in Major League Baseball, with five teams. The careers overlapped in Atlanta (Falcons, 1989-93; Braves, 1991-94). He has two Super Bowl rings with Dallas and an NL pennant with Atlanta, competing in the ’92 World Series.
And now, my choice for best multi-sport athlete ever:
Herschel Walker — The 1982 Heisman Trophy winner had a pro career with decent numbers, but he never really achieved the stardom that he did in college. However, he made the 1992 Winter Olympics as a member of the two-man bobsled team. And he recently won a Mixed Martial Arts bout at age 47. And it should be noted that he was a two-time All-America selection (indoor 60-meter dash, outdoor 400-meter relay) while competing for the Bulldogs’ track team. If someone’s better than that, please let me know. 🙂