We were showing up on a huge professional football weekend, and Buck Showalter is a football fan, too. It didn’t take wish for the based on navigate to Deion Sanders, whom Buck handled in Albany, N.Y., in Double-A ball prior to Deion got phoned to the Yankees in 1989.
As typical with Buck, all you needed to do was ask the concern.
“How good could Deion have been if he had only played baseball?” I stated.
“That good,” Buck stated.
There was a time out at his end of the call, and after that he stated, “He could have been as good as he wanted to be. He is one of the best prospects I had. Ever.”
When we think about two-sport professional athletes, naturally we constantly speak about Bo Jackson, the Heisman Trophy winner whose profession in professional sports was ultimately reduced by injuries, the worst one to a hip. Bo played 4 years in the NFL and 8 in baseball. Deion Sanders played in 9 MLB seasons and played 14 in the NFL as one of the excellent protective backs of perpetuity, getting in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
But Buck was just discussing Deion the baseball gamer now. Happily.
“There was a level of speed unlike I ever saw on a ballfield,” Showalter stated. “I keep in mind the very first time I saw him take 2nd base in Albany, and it damn near took my breath away.
“You want to know how fast he was? We finally couldn’t let him participate in rundown drills. Guys would be doing the fundamentals exactly right, but they couldn’t get him out. Could. Not. Get. Him. Out. I finally just told him to just get out. The guys were doing it right and thought they had to be doing it wrong because they couldn’t get him out. It was like he was changing all the rules of rundown plays just by being out there.”
Then Buck included this: “To this day, there’s never been a prettier sight in baseball, at least not for me, than Deion Sanders running out a triple.”
“He called one time when I was managing the Orioles and told me he was in town,” Showalter stated. “When he got to Camden Yards, he asked if he could take some swings. Then during batting practice, he hit three home runs. In street clothes.”
Showalter stated he comprehends that individuals can’t surpass all of what he calls “the Prime Time” things with Deion. Sanders even takes advantage of it nowadays in insurance coverage commercials with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, now that Sanders is the head coach at Jackson State.
“But his personality was different in baseball,” Buck stated. “He understood the rhythms of it being an everyday sport. He embraced baseball’s past because I know he did, because the two of us talked about the past. And he wasn’t just a good teammate. He was a great teammate.”
Then Buck discussed his preferred Deion baseball minute of all — Royals vs. Yankees on July 17, 1990, at Yankee Stadium. Buck was training 3rd base for the Yankees. There had actually been a great deal of speak about Bo and Deion being on the exact same field in the runup to that Royals-Yankees series, and some extra crosstalk in between the 2 gamers. And that was previously Bo struck house runs his very first 3 times up that night.
But it ended up those crowning achievement wouldn’t be the only thing individuals would keep in mind from the night. In the bottom of the 6th, Deion lined a ball into right-center that Bo dove for and missed out on, separating his shoulder at the same time while the ball rolled towards the outfield wall.
“I’m thinking that Deion’s triple is about to be as much fun to watch as Bo’s [three] homers,” Buck stated. “Only now he comes flying around second, and I see that the Royals are playing it like it’s going to be a routine cut. At that point, it feels like [the Yankees] haven’t scored a run in a month. I decide, what the hell, I’m gonna send him. And start pumping him as hard as I can.”
A lot took place after Sanders occurred 3rd. It appeared he was going to be out. But then the relay toss short-hopped Mike Macfarlane, the Royals’ catcher obstructing the plate.
“Then Deion isn’t just flying around the bases,” Showalter stated. “He’s flying, period. He catapults over Macfarlane, over home plate, and then Macfarlane is scrambling and [pitcher] Mel Stottlemyre, Jr. is picking up the ball and tossing it back to Macfarlane and Deion is scrambling to get his hand on home plate. Which he does. Sneaks it in there. Durwood Merrill is behind the plate, yelling ‘Safe, safe, safe!’”
“The place, as you can imagine, goes [absolutely] crazy,” he stated.
I asked what he believes Deion’s stat line would have been, in his finest year, if he’d just played baseball.
“A .310 average, something like that, because he could get a little homer happy sometimes,” Buck stated. “Fifteen to 20 homers. Score 100 runs a year on the right team. Steal 50 bases. Play center. Lead the league in triples every year. Impact games in so many different ways, people would have lost count.”
There was another time out at the other end of this call, a prime one, about Sanders.
“I would have paid just to watch him run,” Buck stated.