One scout knew how good Bo Jackson would be, once calling him the ‘Best pure athlete in America.’
A Heisman Trophy winner, a Pro-Bowler and an MLB All-Star — not to mention a video-game legend, as well — Bo Jackson has long been considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.
And somewhere out there, there’s a baseball scout who can say, definitively, that he knew what Bo would know as a pro. Observe this scouting report on a 22-year-old Jackson from 1985, Jackson’s junior year at Auburn, which popped up on Reddit late Monday night:
Jackson hadn’t even played baseball in the spring of 1984 after separating his shoulder during the 1983 fall football season. But the year off didn’t do much to discourage the scout, identified as “Gonzales” on the form, who described Jackson as “the best pure athlete in America today.”
As for the actual ratings, Gonzales graded Jackson at “above average” or “very good” in every category but one, docking him in the “hitting ability” category, but indicating that he had potential to improve in the future. That’s not to say he couldn’t swing the bat, though.
Just two weeks prior to this report, Jackson had tied an Auburn baseball record with 14 total bases (three home runs and a double) against Georgia. Jackson hit a home run every 8.65 at-bats that season, another Auburn record, and set a single-season Auburn mark for slugging percentage that year, at .864 — crushing Frank Thomas’ then-record.
Jackson was selected by the Royals in the fourth round of the 1986 MLB Draft and first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1986 NFL Draft. After choosing baseball over football — as Gonzales predicted in his report — Jackson’s name went back into the 1987 NFL Draft, where he was selected 183rd overall by Oakland.
He’d later work out an arrangement to play both football and baseball, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The scout was named Ken Gonzales, who worked for the Royals. He also filed reports on Bo Jackson in 1982 and 1986. In the 1986 report he called Bo a “real GAMBLE!” in part because he “has never shown a real love or desire to play this game.” He also called Bo an introvert who “doesn’t say much and never has.”
I’m not sure either of those things turned out to be correct.