Archive for June 8th, 2011

(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

Before embarking on a Hall of Fame career in the NFL, John Elway played a season in the Yankees’ farm system.

Thirty years ago today, the Yankees drafted a Hall of Famer, two-time champion, multiple-record holder, and iconic cultural figure. Unfortunately, the player they selected never appeared in a single major league game.

With the last pick in the second round of the 1981 June draft, the Yankees selected a 20-year old outfielder from Stanford named John Elway. In his sophomore season, Elway hit .361 with nine home runs and 50 RBIs, but his performance on the diamond paled in comparison to his exploits on the gridiron.

In addition to playing baseball, Elway also happened to be the starting quarterback for the Stanford Cardinal. During his second season leading the team, he racked up 27 touchdowns, 248 completions and 2,889 passing yards, all Pac-10 Conference records. For his efforts, Elway was named the conference player of the year.

The Yankees would be one of the few teams that I would have considered signing with this early in my college career.” – John Elway, quoted by AP, September 21, 1981

Because Elway had emerged as such a strong pro-football prospect, very few people even entertained the thought that he might actually play baseball. In some circles, the Yankees were ridiculed for wasting what was their first selection in the draft. However, when the quarterback/outfielder signed a minor league deal with the team in September (he had previously turned down a contract from the Royals after being drafted out of high school in 1979), the door was left opened to a baseball career.


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