NFL great Aikman was intriguing baseball prospect
But growing up, Aikman was a multi-sport athlete, and he had the skills to stand out in baseball.
Stan Meek, the Marlins vice president of scouting, was an assistant baseball coach at the University of Oklahoma when Aikman played football for the Sooners in the mid-1980s.
Meek recalls former Sooners football coach Barry Switzer giving Aikman approval to also play baseball. The quarterback declined.
There were days after spring football practice where Aikman would drift over to the baseball field to check out the program.
“He’d sit down the right field line and watch practice,” Meek said. “He did that several times. I’d say, ‘Hey, go swing a bat a little bit.’ He’d say, ‘Coach, I’m sorry, I better stay with football.’ “
Had Aikman, now a TV analyst for Fox, given baseball a shot, he projected as a power-hitting outfielder.
“Aikman probably would have been a four or five hole hitter in our lineup, and played right field,” Meek said. “We already had the blessing of Barry Switzer to do it.”
Aikman eventually transferred to UCLA, and of course, he went on to a storied career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Meek remembers the days when Aikman was a touted baseball prospect.
“He was turned in really highly by the scouting bureau coming out of high school as a baseball guy,” Meek said. “But people backed off because he had such a commitment to play football. It paid off for him.”
A few years ago, Aikman did get a taste of the big leagues when he was part of the group that owned the Padres.
– Joe Frisaro