SteveCarlton

The Leon Sandcastle Papers—great baseball players who could have been great Eagles…

Maybe I'm still shell-shocked at how our Livefyre commentary section has just arisen from the dead— but I find myself immersed in "Leon Sandcastle" back-from-the-past speculation…

Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson were probably the last of the 2-sport stars sharing both Major League Baseball and NFL football pedigrees…

But in a moment of reflection, I wonder how, if the hands of time were turned differently, these following spotlighted past stars of baseball would have fared in the NFL…and possibly for the Eagles…

First up— Mickey Mantle… 5-11, 195, and 4.25 in the '40…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mantle was clocked at 4.25 in the '40 (yes, I know, it was a handheld stop-watch) coming out of high school in Commerce, Oklahoma in 1949. After busting up his knee in an outfield drain/spike-catch incident in Yankee Stadium in 1951, Mantle would never again approach that kind of foot-speed.

Mickey Charles Mantle was born on October 20, 1931, in Spavinaw, Oklahoma. Named by his baseball-loving father after Detroit Tigers catcher Mickey Cochrane, Mickey Mantle was trained from a young age to be a switch-hitter. A New York Yankees scout saw him play while in high school, and Mantle subsequently signed on, and spent two years in the minors before joining the major league team at the age of 19.

Little known fact— Mantle played football, too— and the Eagles at the time under the careful watch of head coach Greasy Neale were hoping he'd accept a football scholarship to Oklahoma State U.

It didn't go down that way— Mantle took substantial bonus money by the standards of the time from the Yankees— and chose baseball over football. 

Wow. Can you imagine Mickey Mantle with 4.25 speed (assuming no intermediate collegiate injury) playing H-back or tailback with the Eagles back then, and Bobby Thomason or Adrian Burk throwing bombs to him? 

It didn't work out that way. But that would have been a primeval "Leon Sandcastle" moment…

Next up—Dick Allen would/could have been a hella linebacker for the Eagles in the mid-'60's…

5-11, 195, but with the musculature of a much bigger man, Allen was clocked at 4.55 in the '40 coming out of Wampum High in western Pennsylvania in the early '60's…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allen played all three major sports at Wampum and excelled in each…he was the first to "dunk" a basketball two-handed in a regulation game in his high school conference— and Eagles scouts at the time were all over him.

But Allen declined football and basketball scholarship offers from Penn State and Pitt (among others) to accept big-time signing bonus money from the Phillies.

Eagles scouts at the time were despondent. They thought Allen would have the potential to be a great  middle linebacker in the NFL. Looking back on it, Allen had that "Ray Lewis" kinda deal about him—  he was smart, and he liked to hit people.

Next, we look at Steve Carlton, who was scouted by the Eagles as a quarterback coming out of his hometown in Miami, Florida, back in 1963 while playing football and baseball for Miami-Dade Junior College.

6-4, 210, Carlton was envisioned by Eagles scouts at the time as a prototypical "big lefty QB"— a guy who could revolutionize the way NFL defenses had to game-plan against an Eagles offense.

Of course it went the other way–MLB guaranteed signing money trumped NFL contract money at the time. But oh how does the mind wander to envision Steve Carlton in the pocket for the Eagles throwing lasers to Harold Jackson downfield? [By the way, Carlton was clocked at 4.6 seconds in the '40 at Miami-Dade]…

Finally, here's a look at Babe Ruth for the true athlete he was at one point in his career.

We have these stereotypical images of the Babe as a slow barrel-chested guy on spindly legs… but such are the images of the Babe warped by the 1930-era film records of him at the end of his baseball career…

Fact is, Ruth was a world-class athlete in his youth—  and an incredible athletic specimen at 6-2, 215, and hand-clocked at 4.6 in the '40…

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


Ruth came up to the Boston Red Sox in 1914 out of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys and the then-minor league Baltimore Orioles as a slim left-handed pitcher. But he had been also scouted as a potential quarterback by many Atlantic Coast colleges at the time. There was no Philadelphia Eagles or NFL as such at the time—but there was a developing barnstorming professional football circuit which had its eye on Ruth, too.

Imagine— Ruth could have been the first Ben Roethlisberger…  but he chose baseball.

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What we do know about Chip Kelly is that he wants to be as multiple on defense as he will be on offense. That means the Eagles won't run a 3-4 exclusively, but are obviously bringing in the kind of personnel to make 3-4 their base. With that in mind, the final 53-man roster will be constructed differently, with a few less defensive linemen and a few more linebackers.

On offense, Kelly almost certainly will keep more tight ends than his predecessor Andy Reid ever did. The most Reid ever kept was three, and usually the Eagles only had two. With Kelly, they could keep as many as five and almost certainly at least four.

And that's about as much as I can predict with certainty about the final roster look this Eagles team will feature in 2013.  Get ready for a whole lot of speculation on that subject. I can't wait for the QB roster drama to unfold as a saga in its own right. What happens to Antonio Dixon at NT without "He Hate Me" Washburn in his face could be very interesting, too…

 

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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