Before he was infamous pick No. 199, Tom Brady actually was the 507th overall selection in a draft.
Hardcore Brady fans know the eventual New England Patriots quarterback was drafted by the Montreal Expos as a catcher before he chose football as his athletic path. Good career decision, it seems. But before Brady became (arguably) the GOAT in the NFL, might he have found similar success elsewhere?
Former Expos general manager Kevin Malone certainly believes so.
“I think he could have been one of the greatest catchers ever,” Malone told Bleacher Report. “I know that’s quite a statement, but the projections were based on the fact we had a left-hand-hitting catcher, with arm strength and who was athletic. …
“But his first love was football.”
That it was. Brady went on to play at Michigan, and though his ascent up the depth chart there was not without its own challenges — ahem, Lloyd Carr — it set the table for Bill Belichick and Brady becoming perhaps the greatest coach-QB duo of the modern NFL.
But Malone certainly deserves mention, too, having drafted Brady five years before Belichick did — in fact, it was 22 years ago to the day this Friday. Kudos to the Patriots’ official website, which put together a fun, little spoof of “The Brady 6” movie done by NFL Films about the quarterbacks taken before Brady in the 2000 NFL draft. Check out the 1995 baseball draft version, cleverly called “The Brady 30,” for each of the catchers drafted before Brady.
Oh, what might have been.
And even though Malone and the Expos believed Brady was likely to choose football, they took a flier on him in the 18th round of the 1995 draft, hoping that the catcher might be enticed by playing professionally for a franchise that was, frankly, at the peak of its existence before things crumbled in the 2000s and the team left Montreal.
What made Brady a good baseball prospect? Well, his face for one. Seriously.
“He was a very athletic young man. A big kid who had a great face, a major league face. Yes, we looked at the face,” Malone said. “He had an athletic, strong body, but there was room for development. As a scout, one of the first things you look at is just the body — the type of body, the athleticism and what kind of face does he have. I know that sounds a little strange.”
It does indeed. But Brady was a talented and clearly driven athlete. Who knows?
Big League Stew writer Chris Cwik wrote about what Brady might have become one year ago this week. Other scouts noted that Brady had a cannon for an arm and considerable power, and his intangibles likely would have served him well as a catcher, which can act as a coach on the diamond.
It’s fun to think about what Brady — or, for that matter, Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick — might have become in baseball. Maybe great, maybe not. It’s also interesting to wonder what Tim Tebow, now toiling in the minors at age 29, might have done had he played baseball sooner. And it’s even not ridiculous to consider whether Johnny Manziel — who was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2014 — could have had a better baseball career than his now-dormant NFL existence (although we suspect you know the biggest reasons why that has happened).
Could Brady have become the next Gary Carter? We have no idea. One thing’s for certain: There’s almost no chance that Brady would have won as many championships in baseball as he has with his five Super Bowl rings. That’s how many World Series Derek Jeter ended up winning (and the tie-in there is that Jeter considered going to Michigan, meaning he and Brady could have crossed paths in Ann Arbor). Brady certainly wouldn’t have touched the all-time record held by Yogi Berra, also a catcher, with his 10 World Series titles.
But if there’s video of Brady hitting a home run with a wooden bat in the old Seattle Kingdome during a predraft workout for the Mariners, we’re going to want to see that.
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