Football’s Sanders Is Playing Baseball


Some snickered when Deion Sanders, the fifth pick in the National Football League draft last month, said he might play major league baseball instead of pro football.

Or both.

Like Bo Jackson.

Through Friday, playing for the New York Yankees’ upstate New York double-A team, Albany-Colonie, Sanders was hitting .294 after 30 games, had scored 25 runs, hit one home run, driven in six runs, stolen 15 bases in 19 attempts, and had a .384 on-base percentage--aided by the fact he’d been hit by pitchers six times.

The Yankees aren’t sure what to make of their young center-field prospect, who played 28 games in the Yankees’ system last summer, including five in triple-A.


Is he playing minor-league baseball to get the Atlanta Falcons to pay him more money? The Falcons drafted him as a defensive back out of Florida State.

Said Pete Jameson, the Yankees’ assistant general manager: “Deion is getting a taste of pro baseball life. His approach to the game is serious. He’s a capable double-A player who shows some major-league promise.

“No one should compare him to Bo Jackson. He’ll never hit home runs like Bo. He’s a different kind of player. He’s a much better outfielder, for one thing, although he doesn’t have the arm Bo has.”

He’s also a big winner.

Through Friday, Albany-Colonie had a 28-8 record, the best in professional baseball.

Trivia time: The Dodgers were one of only four major league teams that opened the season with no rookies on their roster. Name the other three.

Just say nyet: The USC football team will make two trips to Moscow next season. On Sept. 2 in the Soviet Union, the Trojans will play Illinois in the Glasnost Bowl. Four weeks later, they will travel to Moscow, Ida., which is just across the Washington/Idaho border from Pullman, Wash., where they will play Washington State on Sept. 30.

Stray Bullets: The Washington Bullets were the only team in the National Basketball Assn. that did not have a single player who shot 50% or better from the floor.


One way to look at it: Stu Inman, director of player personnel for the Miami Heat, which was 15-67 in its first season in the NBA, said his team enjoys a unique position as it looks forward to next month’s draft.

“Some of the more established teams in the lottery will go for need, whereas we’re not restricted by it,” he said. “We need everything.”

Fetch the keys: Television commentator Dick Vitale doesn’t believe that the Sacramento Kings will take Michigan’s Glen Rice with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, as Bill Russell, the club’s executive vice president, has suggested.

“If Rice is in a King uniform on opening night,” Vitale told USA Today, “I’ll be Russell’s personal valet and chauffeur that night and maybe get Big Bill’s autograph. They’ll either trade the pick or take (Duke’s) Danny Ferry or (Arizona’s) Sean Elliott.”

In a spin: Ron Kittle of the Chicago White Sox is 0 for 14 with 10 strikeouts against right-hander Mike Boddicker of the Boston Red Sox.

“The last time I faced him, I took my bats and threw them in the whirlpool,” Kittle said. “They went around and around, but they didn’t hit anything.”


Trivia answer: The Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Quotebook: Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who is a minority owner of the Miami Miracle, a Class-A baseball team that plays in the Florida State League: “I like the fact that it’s a non-polluting industry with no tall buildings.”