It’s safe to say Deion Sanders has taken the world by storm over the past month. After spending two years as the head football coach at Jackson State, Sanders over the winter accepted the head coaching job at the University of Colorado, where he turned a team that went 1-11 last season into an undefeated powerhouse that plays with an edge and style unlike any other team in sports.
But before Sanders was “Coach Prime,” he was “Prime Time” — a gifted two-sport athlete who put together a Hall of Fame career in the NFL while starring on the diamond, as well. Sanders played in 641 games in his MLB career with four different franchises.
- Revisit Deion’s exploits on the diamond
“One of the fastest people I’ve ever seen,” said MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds, who played against Sanders in his MLB debut. “He had style, flair and he was a heck of a player. It was fun to play and compete against him.”
The first six years of Sanders’ career were spent with the Yankees and Reds, with the highlight in 1992, when he tried to play in an NFL game and NLCS game in the same day. While it didn’t work out, Sanders ended up playing in that year’s World Series, where he hit .533 (Sanders still holds the distinction of being the only player to play in both a World Series and Super Bowl).
“The first thing that caught my eye with him was his desire to be great,” said ESPN’s Eduardo Perez, who shared a clubhouse with Sanders during the ‘97 season with the Reds. “During Spring Training, you could tell ‘Prime Time’ was the real deal.”
After temporarily retiring from baseball, Sanders made his return in 2001 and announced his presence on Opening Day with a home run and a stolen base.
“It was a very Deion-like game,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who shared a clubhouse with Sanders during both of his stints with the Reds. “He was a star player who hadn’t played baseball in a long time and absolutely delivered an All-Star level performance.”
His aura carried into the clubhouse as well. During the team’s trip to Chicago that June, Sean Casey went into the clubhouse to retrieve his batting gloves only to find Sanders talking with Bo Jackson, an impressive two-way player in his own right. Pretty soon, Casey was deep into conversation with the two.
“I was thinking to myself that I was probably [scheduled to hit], but I didn’t care if I was up or not,” said Casey, now the Yankees’ hitting coach. “I was talking to two of the best athletes this human race has ever seen. It was incredible.”