Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » John Elway and the Yankees

John Elway and the Yankees

By Mike Silva ~ January 22nd, 2012. Filed under: New York Yankees, NY Baseball Memories.

It’s Championship Sunday in the NFL, so why not write an article that has a football connection.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus was asked earlier this week what NFL player was the best baseball player. Goldstein said he “knows multiple scouts that believe John Elway would have been a superstar.”

I know multiple scouts who think John Elway would have been a superstar. RT @jcook71: @Kevin_Goldstein Best baseball player among NFLers?Sun Jan 15 19:37:54 via TweetDeck

Elway was drafted in the 2nd round by the Yankees in 1981. While still at Stanford, he played outfield for their NY-Penn League affiliate in Oneonta in 1982.

Elway had a very nice inaugural season in rookie ball, as he hit .318 with 4 HRs, 25 RBI, and 13 stolen bases in 42 games. When he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in ’83, and subsequently forced them to deal him to Denver, Elway’s baseball career was essentially over.

This past summer, Alfred Santasiere III wrote a piece about Elway for Yankees Magazine. When he asked Elway about whether he thinks about what his life would have been like had he chosen baseball over football, he said ““I think about that all of the time. Even though my football career turned out the way it did, to be dead honest with you, if there is one thing I would have liked to have done, it would have been to be a Yankee. I look at the legacy that Mr. Steinbrenner has left there, which is one in which they do everything they can to win baseball games and championships, and I am in awe. I really don’t think about what it would have been like to play baseball. I think about what it would have been like to have played for the Yankees.”

The Flagrant Fan points out that ”John Elway was already an accomplished baseball player with excellent plate discipline. He only struck out 16.5 percent of the time and walked at a rate of 15.1 percent. He was an excellent base runner and stole thirteen bases in just sixteen attempts. Plus, he seemed to be a terrific right fielder. He made 69 putouts in 71 attempts (89.9 percent) and the arm that made him a quarterback was on display in the outfield where he made eight assists in just those 41 games. He didn’t make a single error.”

Think about it; the drive versus Cleveland never happens, back-to-back Super Bowl’s don’t exist, and the Yankees might have had another homegrown All Star to team with Don Mattingly in the eighties.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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6 Responses to John Elway and the Yankees

  1. Ken Bland

    Geez, what a silly question in the sense of no debate whatsoever. A definitive answer for Bo Jackson. And don’t try saying Bo was a baseball player who played football. That physique was as football as it got. Not to take away from the point of Elway as a baseball player, but he could not possibly have had more potential than 2nd best footballer at baseball. Not with Bo around.

  2. Stu B

    To say nothing of Deion Sanders, Brian Jordan, DJ Dozier, Jim Thorpe, and about 120 other guys - http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Category:NFL_Players

    Elway falls way short since there’s no guarantee he would have made it to the majors.

  3. Ken Bland


    I stopped short of mentioning those names allowing for conjecture to possibly have allowed for Elway to have been better than every one of them as a baseball guy. Thorpe, of course, is clearly based on reputation, and it’s good, and I’m not familiar with DJ Dozier, but I think Elway could have been a terrific baseball player (no, I didn’t ever see him play, that guess is just based on reading and stats). But I did draw the line at Bo. I believe Bo to be the best athlete I ever saw, and Wilt Chamberlain is well within the scope of athletes I’ve seen, an outstanding track guy as well as basketball. Jim Brown is in both the football and lacross Halls, but it’s challenging to have seen him as a baseball guy. As it was, Elway was quite a treat to watch play football.

  4. Stu B

    IMO, just about anyone who played MLB is/was better than those who didn’t - virtually by definition. You didn’t see Brian Jordan play from 1992 to 2006? The guy was an all-star in ’99 and a career .282 hitter with 184 homers.

    Maybe Dozier, who hit .191 during a cup of coffee with the ’92 Mets, isn’t a great example, but even he was more successful than lots of guys who never made it out of the minors.

    What anyone may have thought about Elway’s ability and how it would have translated into MLB success is merely speculation. There’s no real evidence.

  5. MLB Ballparks

    I think Adam Dunn could have been a hell of an NFL player. He was originally recruited to play at Texas. And as much as I hate to say it, A-Rod could have been an NFL superstar as well.

  6. Ken Bland


    Can’t disagree with your first sentence definition. Lots of conjecture, no question. I did see Brian Jordan, very nice player. And along the lines of Elway being totally untested, I just think he might have actually matched and surpassed Jordan, with no disrespect to Jordan’s career. Too lenient? Very possibly. Just no way he was matching Bo. Just my thinking, fwiw.

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