There isn’t a shortage of NFL quarterbacks who get drafted to play Major League Baseball, although the dual sport thing isn’t as popular as it used to be. Johnny Manziel, soon to be in his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns, is the next in that line of players, getting to be the 837th player taken in the June draft, going to the San Diego Padres.
Why? No actual meaning. No one taken that late has ever player Baseball, and Manziel will be no different. He joins Tom Brady, Brandon Weeden, Michael Vick, Jake Locker (drafted twice), Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick as active NFL quarterbacks who were also drafted by a Baseball team although never actually made the switch. Manziel, the 2012 Heisman winner from Texas A&M, was the 22nd overall pick in the NFL draft last month.
So why did the Padres take him in the 28th round? In 2013 Manziel went to San Diego and worked with a quarterbacks coach. He didn’t play baseball in college, but was interested in playing before winning the starting job in College station after doing well in both sports during his high school years, playing for Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas. Manziel was supposed to throw an opening pitch in an Indians game last week, but his toss was washed out by rain that delayed the start.
In May 2013 Manziel took batting practice with the Padres and surprised quite a lot of people with his ability to actually play baseball. He might not have looked like someone who is going to ever make the Majors, but it turns out he was quite impressive in his “second” sport as well.
Huston Street, despite being the son of someone who played quarterback for Texas and not A&M, is a big fan of Manziel’s: I’m a fan. I think he’s an exciting player. I think he’s good for sport. I think he plays hard. I don’t know if he’ll ever wear a Padre uniform, but it sure is exciting that the organization took him. I know he hung out here last year a couple times and everybody really enjoyed his presence. Everybody liked him. I came away from that day thinking, ‘Man, that’s a good dude, that’s a cool guy.’ It seemed like he was a very focused, mentally strong guy. He wanted to do something. We know what he can do in football.
Heck, if he wants to come out here and hang around before games … I don’t know if they let 28th-round picks do that. But he’s a great athlete. I don’t think anybody expects to see him in the big leagues, but maybe he’s going to try and do both. I don’t know. If he does, he’s one of the more competitive people I’ve been around. We’ll see what happens with his football career. He’s potentially got a baseball one.
Manziel isn’t going to play baseball, not likely or even close to that. But it’s always good to have a fall back option, even early in what might turn out to be a very promising NFL career. And anyways, as Tracy McGrady proved with his life after the NBA – it’s never too late to follow other passions, and Baseball, although not at the highest of levels, seems to have openings for players looking to start their second career.