Cincinnati Reds: A look back at the career of Deion Sanders

23 May 2001: A close up of Deion Sanders #3 of the Cincinnati Reds watching the action during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Reds 4-2.Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport
23 May 2001: A close up of Deion Sanders #3 of the Cincinnati Reds watching the action during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Reds 4-2.Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

Deion Sanders was one of the best athletes we’ve ever seen. With Super Bowl LIII about to kickoff, let’s look back at the career of the Cincinnati Reds’ speedster.

Deion Sanders is one of the most talented athletes we’ll ever see. We very rarely see a professional athletes play two sports, much less at the highest level. Sanders played in both Major League Baseball and the National Football League. With the Super Bowl about to kickoff, let’s look back at the Cincinnati Reds career of “Prime Time”.

Deion Sanders was actually drafted out of high school by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of 1985 MLB Draft. Sanders decided rather to enroll at Florida State University, where he was a standout athlete who played baseball, football, and ran track.

Deion Sanders stood out more on the gridiron than the diamond. He was a two-time consensus All-American for Bobby Bowden’s football team and during his career had 14 interceptions. He won the Jim Thorpe Award in 1988, which is given to the top defensive back in college football every year.

More from Blog Red Machine

Sanders was skilled at baseball as well. His speed allowed him to track down balls in the outfield and steal bases like few before him. On one occasion, Deion played Game 1 of a doubleheader, ran a leg of FSU’s 4x100M relay in his baseball pants, and returned to play the second game on the baseball diamond.

With a much brighter future on the football field, Sanders’ participation in the major leagues was on more of a part-time gig. However, his impact was much more than that. Prime Time shined on the ball field as well.

Deion Sanders was drafted in the 30th round of the 1988 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. Sanders made his major league debut in 1989 and was on the Yankees Opening Day roster to start the 1990 season. His rookie season saw Sanders hit a paltry .158 in 149 plate appearances over 57 games.

The 1990 season was a tumultuous one for Sanders. Deion’s flamboyant attitude ruffled the feathers of some of the veteran players. He got into a very heated exchange with then Chicago White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk when Sanders refused to “run out” at pop up. Fisk later said that he told Sanders that “there’s a right way and a wrong way to play the game.”

That same season, Sanders was in a contract dispute with the Atlanta Falcons and was attempting to use the Yankees as leverage. After reportedly requesting a $1M salary for the following season, New York ended negotiations with Sanders and he left the team.

Playing for the Atlanta Falcons in 1991, Sanders signed a contract with Atlanta Braves. Deion made his way to the Cincinnati Reds midway through the 1994 season. He played in played in 46 games that season, hit .277 and stole 19 bases. Sanders played just 33 games for the Reds the following year.

The speedy outfielder hit .240 with 16 stolen bases before heading the the San Francisco Giants midway through the season in an eight-player trade that brought Mark Portugal, Dave Burba, and Darren Lewis to the Queen City.

Deion Sanders returned to Cincinnati in 1997, in what was far and away his best season with the Reds. Sanders slashed .273/.329/.363 with 13 doubles, 7 triples, and 56 stolen bases. The 1997 season saw Sanders play 115 games, the most of his 9-year major league career.

In January 2000, Sanders signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds with the intent to return to the major leagues that season. However, after undergoing surgery on his right knee to to repair an injury he sustained while playing football, combined with a poor offensive performance (21-for-105 at the plate) at Triple-A Louisville, he retired from the game that spring.

Deion Sanders is, without question, one of the most controversial athletes we’ve ever seen. His brash, unapologetic attitude rubbed a lot of fans and fellow athletes the wrong way. However, there was no denying his athletic talents on both the football field and the baseball diamond.

Next. Reds Top 10 all-time leaders in HRs

Sanders career with the Cincinnati Reds ended with 226 games spanning 4 seasons. He hit .260 for his career with the Reds and racked up 96 total steals. Though not a Hall of Fame baseball player, Sanders was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Sanders football career spanned 14 seasons. He won two Super Bowls and is the only person to ever play in both the World Series and the Super Bowl.