With Tim Tebow coming forward with a pitch to play professional baseball, it begs the question: how many Heisman Trophy winners have played America’s pastime professionally? The answer might surprise you. We took a quick look back over the past 50 years to see who made the cut.
Jameis Winston won the Heisman in 2013 as the freshman quarterback for Florida State University. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 2012 MLB draft out of high school but decided to go to FSU. While there, he played two years of baseball in addition to his Heisman-winning performance on the gridiron. However, when forced to choose, he picked football and is currently a quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Another player who had to make that decision was 2012 Heisman winner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. We all know him as the Cleveland Browns quarterback that came and went, but did you know he was also drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 2014 MLB draft? He ultimately chose football but with that career seemingly over, we might see him as the next shortstop for the Padres.
Fellow FSU standout and 2000 Heisman winner Chris Weinke actually started his sports career in baseball. He was drafted out of Minnesota’s Cretin-Durham Hall School by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1990 and decided to give baseball a shot. He made it as far as Triple-A but decided to accept a scholarship offer to play football at FSU and joined the team as a 25-year-old freshman. He won the Heisman in 2000 as a senior and has gone on to enjoy an NFL career and is currently the quarterbacks coach for the Los Angeles Rams.
Ricky Williams decided to go the same way choosing baseball before football. He was drafted out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1995 and played in their farm system while he was also going to the University of Texas and playing football there. He won the Heisman in 1998 — the same year he was picked up in the Rule 5 draft by the Montreal Expos, who ended up sending him to the Texas Rangers. But in 1999, he was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and he decided to join the NFL instead. He spent 12 seasons in the NFL and is currently a football analyst on ESPN’s Longhorn Network.
Then we have 1993 Heisman winner Charlie Ward, who is apparently good at every sport he ever played. The FSU quarterback elected not to play in the NFL and instead became the first and currently only Heisman winner to play in the NBA. But he was also drafted to play baseball two years in a row, first by the Brewers in 1993 and the Yankees in 1994. However, he chose to stay on the path to the NBA.
Perhaps one of the most famous Heisman winners to play pro baseball is Bo Jackson. He won the prestigious award as an Auburn running back in 1985. The Yankees actually drafted Jackson out of high school in 1982 but he decided to go play football at Auburn. With such a successful football career, it probably shocked some people when after being selected by Tampa Bay with the first pick of the 1986 NFL draft, he elected to instead sign with the Kansas City Royals, who drafted him in the fourth round of the MLB draft. However, he ended up playing in both the MLB and NFL during the same years, something that probably wouldn’t be allowed anymore. From 1987-1990, he played for the Kansas City Royals during baseball season and as soon as the season concluded, he reported to play for the Los Angeles Raiders. His NFL career concluded after the 1990 season but he spent four more seasons in MLB before retiring after the 1994 player strike.
Another fun fact: 1974 and 1975 Heisman winner Archie Griffin was one of several investors in Mandalay Baseball Properties, which owned several minor league baseball teams.
With so many former football players and Heisman winners at least having a shot in pro baseball, it isn’t too farfetched to think Tim Tebow might be given a shot somewhere — but if Tim Lincecum can’t make it and he’s a Cy Young Award winner, does Tebow have a shot? You decide.