Tom Brady is the greatest draft pick in NFL history. He went from a sixth round selection – the now famous number 199 – to become arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game; a four-time Super Bowl champion and future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
His, the New England Patriots’ and professional football’s story could have looked quite differently, though, had Brady made a different choice in 1995.
Shortly after Brady graduated from San Mateo’s Junípero Serra High School, the Major League Baseball’s Montreal Expos opted to select the then-17-year old in the 18th round of the draft. The future NFL-MVP played football and baseball in high school and appeared in 61 varsity baseball games. He posted a solid stat line, hitting .331 with eight home runs, 11 doubles and 44 runs. He also was named an all-league catcher as a high school senior.
By his own account, he "was a much better baseball player." His former coach, Pete Jensen, thought the same way (via the Globe and Mail):
Tommy's makeup was just so fantastic – the leadership, competitiveness and the athletic tools. I actually felt he was a better baseball player in high school than he was a football player. I told everyone he would play in the majors some day.
That day almost came on June 2nd, 1995, when the Expos took a late-round flyer on Brady (just like a certain football team would five years later).
He did not join Montreal, though. Despite being a talented hitter and catcher with good height and a powerful arm, Brady followed his passion and committed to Michigan to play football. The Expos still tried to lure him away from the Wolverines but were unable to change his mind. And the rest is history.
Brady, while the most famous, was not the only future Patriot to get drafted in the 1995 MLB draft. The Detroit Tigers selected Lawyer Milloy in the 19th round, while the Cleveland Indians picked Michael Bishop in the 28th round.