Montreal Expos players helped young Tom Brady pick football over baseball
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Things happen for a reason.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady could have very easily played professional baseball. He was a star catcher who had it all – power, precision, accuracy – and even a trait that very few in that position have today: Brady was right handed but batted lefty.
During his senior year of high school, in which he was voted captain and named to the All District team, Brady's baseball talents caught the attention of a Montreal Expos scout named John Hughes.
“He was a left-handed, power-hitting catcher who was cerebral. He had arm strength. He had everything that would warrant him being projected as a major league all-star. He had everything.”
But one afternoon with Expos outfielder, FP Santangelo, helped Brady realize his one true love: football.
Although it was known that Brady intended on playing football for Michigan in the fall, Hughes decided to take a chance on him anyways and convinced general manager Kevin Malone to draft him in the 18th round. Hughes then arranged for Brady to workout with the team when the Expos were passing through San Francisco, giving him the full treatment of his own jersey and a one-on-one meeting with Malone.
Enter FP Santangelo. The 27-year-old outfielder was instructed to chaperone Brady for the day and escort him around. But once he heard that Brady intended to play football at Michigan, the idea of him playing for the Expos went completely out of his mind.
Santangelo was a diehard Michigan fan, as he had grown up in the state after his mother had attended the school. He ended up taking Brady around the clubhouse and actually introduced him as “This is Tom Brady, he plays quarterback at Michigan.”
“I do remember that Brady was very shy,” Santangelo says, “He was saying, ‘I’m like fifth-string right now, who knows how that’s going to go.”
Guys like Pedro Martinez, Felipe Alou and more began gathering around Brady and asking him questions about his future plans.
“We were telling him, ‘Why would you make $800 a month in the minor leagues when you can be the quarterback at the University of Michigan? You’re a good-looking guy, you can probably have a lot of fun off the field too,’” Santangelo said, “We told him, ‘Go play football at Michigan! Are you kidding me?’”
Hughes kept trying and didn’t back down for a while. The Expos even authorized him to offer Brady a hefty contract that was “in the neighborhood of bottom of the second round, top of the third type money.”
But knowing where Brady’s heart was set, Hughes never ended up making the offer.
It was about 10 years later, in the midst of when Brady was helping the Patriots win one of their three titles in four years, that Hughes realized the importance of how it all played out.
“If I could’ve signed this guy, I would’ve changed the entire history of the NFL. The NFL would’ve never been the same. Who would’ve known?”