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Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Its hard to believe that NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders also had a career in baseball but for 9 seasons, he did. Sanders was a rare breed, a professional two-sport athlete who was effective in both. A career .263 hitter with 186 career stolen bases, Sanders didn't embarass himself on the diamond and today, he turns 44.
Known as Prime-Time and Neon Deon for his flamboyant personality and wardrobe, Sanders is perhaps best known for his NFL career in which he was a shutdown cornerback and an 8x all-pro with 2 Super Bowl championships and world class speed. He has also continued his public career in football, working as an analyst on the NFL Network.
Sanders, the baseball player impressed only with his speed in the minors. TBC has him with a 99 speed rating which means that he was likely always at the top of his league in any given season, in stolen bases per at bat. He had only occasional power, was friends with the triple and generally slapped the ball into play. His best season was in 1997 when he stole 56 bases for Cincinnati in what would amount to his only full-time season as a starter. But though he did sign with the Reds in 1998, it was only as insurace for the Reds as Sanders shifted focus back to his football career. He also missed the 1996,1998 and 1999 seasons.
He was drafted by the Yankees in 1988 in the 30th round and with the 5th pick of the 1989 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Sanders might have been a good fit in New York but they released him in 1990 at the age of 22, allowing him to hook up with the Atlanta Braves. And of course, the reason for that was that the Braves and Falcons played in the same city. It was a better fit for Deion who, despite showing very little baseball value, had already gotten a stranglehold on his career.