You may have heard the story by now. Shortly after Tom Brady graduated from San Mateo’s Junípero Serra High School, the Montreal Expos decided to select the then-17-year-old in the 18th round of the MLB Draft.
Brady was an able baseball player, after all. He appeared in 61 varsity baseball games and posted a solid stat line, hitting .331 with 8 home runs, 11 doubles and 44 runs. He also was named an all-league catcher as a high school senior.
However, he eventually decided against pursuing a career in baseball and tried his luck in football. Brady joined the University of Michigan, was selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, and went on to win six Super Bowls with the organization. He later won a seventh as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to further cement himself as the greatest player the game has ever seen.
It all could have looked quite different had Brady made a different decision in the summer of 1995, though. He may be the most famous but he is not the only notable “What if...” in NFL history: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was selected in an MLB Draft, as were fellow QBs such as Dan Marino, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Daunte Culpepper.
The Patriots themselves have also employed quite a few players through the years that were drafted by a professional baseball team but eventually decided against joining the MLB. With this year’s draft currently underway, let’s take a look at them.
Greg McMurtry (1986/1990): McMurtry caught 120 passes as a Patriot between 1990 and 1993, and he also heard his name called twice in an MLB Draft: the Boston Red Sox drafted him in the first round in 1986, while the Detroit Tigers picked him in the 27th round four years later.
Hart Lee Dykes (1988): The first overall selection of the NFL’s 1989 draft, Dykes was also chosen in the 54th of the MLB draft one year earlier. He never signed with the Chicago White Sox, though, and later went on to spend two seasons in New England. Dykes caught 83 passes for 1,344 yards and seven touchdowns before leaving the Patriots again.
Dino Philyaw (1990): Five years after the Cleveland Indians drafted him in the 14th round, the Patriots picked Philyaw in the sixth. He never appeared in a game for them, however, getting released ahead of the 1995 regular season opener.
John Lynch (1992): Lynch’s Patriots tenure was limited to two weeks in the summer of 2008, and was therefore even less notable than his time as a baseball player. Lynch, a second-round draft pick by the Miami Marlins in 1992, spent two seasons with the club’s minor league affiliates before entering the NFL and embarking on a Hall of Fame career.
Lawyer Milloy (1992/1995): 27 rounds after John Lynch was drafted, the Cleveland Indians picked Lawyer Milloy. Three years later, he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 19th round. He never joined an MLB team, however, and instead joined the Patriots as a second-round selection in 1996. Milloy played a combined 121 regular season and playoff games for the organization, winning one Super Bowl along the way.
Terrell Buckley (1992): Before playing 34 games for the Patriots in 2001 and 2002, Buckley was selected 1069th overall by the Atlanta Braves in the 1992 MBL Draft. However, he had already been drafted in the first round by the Green Bay Packers earlier that year. Buckley chose football instead of baseball.
Bert Emanuel (1992): Eleven rounds after Buckley was drafted, Emanuel heard his name called by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The journeyman wide receiver also played two games for the Patriots in 2001. He caught four passes for 25 yards.
Darly Porter (1993): A 56th-round pick by the California Angels, Porter spent one offseason with the Patriots but never appeared in an actual game for the club.
Tom Brady (1995): You know what happened: Brady picked football over baseball, and 26 years later has earned a record seven Super Bowl rings.
Michael Bishop (1995/1999): The Patriots picked Bishop in the seventh round of the NFL’s 1999 draft, but he also heard his name called twice in its MLB counterpart. The future backup quarterback, who played eight games in his career, was selected in the 28th and 44th rounds by in 1995 and 1999 drafts, respectively. Both times, the Cleveland Indians wanted to get him aboard.
Matt Cassel (2004): Before serving as the Patriots’ backup and part-time starter for four seasons, Cassel was picked in the 36th round of the 2004 draft by the Oakland Athletics. He never actually signed with the club, though, and instead joined New England as a seventh-round selection one year later.
Isaiah Stanback (2006): Stanback appeared in six games for the Patriots in 2009, which is six more games than he played for the Baltimore Orioles after they drafted him 1342nd overall in 2006.
Eric Decker (2008/2009): Decker was drafted in back-to-back years by the Milwaukee Brewers (39-1178) and Minnesota Twins (27-822) but opted to play football. At the end of a productive career, he joined the Patriots during their 2018 training camp. Decker retired 24 days later.
Tyler Gaffney (2012): The only active Patriots player to get picked in an MLB Draft, Gaffney was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 24th round back in 2012. He actually appeared in 38 games for one of their minor league affiliates, and after his initial retirement from the NFL in 2018 went back to playing baseball. He played 89 more games for the Pirates’ farm teams before rejoining the NFL and eventually returning to New England as well.
Other Patriots players have played professional baseball over the years as well, most notably Tom Yewcic and Tim Tebow. However, neither of them was actually drafted into the MLB.