By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — F.P. Santangelo spent parts of seven seasons in Major League Baseball, batting just .245 and hitting 21 total home runs for the Expos, Giants, Dodgers and Athletics.
The baseball career of the utility man who was drafted in the 20th round of the 1989 draft may be mostly forgettable … but he also may have changed football history forever.
That’s what Santangelo’s son would have you believe, anyway.
F.P. Santangelo Jr. shared a story on Twitter this week about the time Tom Brady took batting practice with the Expos at Candlestick Park, prior to Brady being drafted as a catcher in the 18th round of the draft by Montreal. That pre-draft workout was detailed in a story last year, but Santangelo Jr. added some interesting commentary about what the elder Santangelo offered to the 18-year-old Brady:
“As the story goes, [Santangelo] Senior was in charge of persuading Tom Brady to sign with the Expos but Senior told him, and I quote: ‘Dude sitting on buses all day sucks. Being a QB at Michigan would rule.’ Then Senior introduced Brady as Michigan’s QB to all the players. Rest is history.”
Santangelo Jr. followed up that post with a message to all of the football fans who have grown exhausted of seeing Brady win so much: “So blame [Santangelo Sr.] for ruining football and always having the Patriots in the Super Bowl.”
Sure enough, the story has been shared before. In a 2012 story in The Star-Ledger, Jeff Bradley wrote:
But when he went into the clubhouse a little while later, what [former scout John] Hughes saw pretty much convinced him there was no shot. “Tom was sitting on a stool in the clubhouse,” Hughes recalled with a laugh. “And he was surrounded by guys from the team. And Tom was holding court. They all wanted to talk to him about playing quarterback in the Big House for Michigan. Guys were like, ‘You can’t pass that up for baseball.'”
A similar story was also shared in a 2017 MMQB story by Tim Rohan:
Hughes told FP Santangelo, a 27-year-old outfielder, to watch after Brady and chaperone him for the day, because the Expos wanted to sign this guy. But once Santangelo heard that Brady was going to play quarterback at Michigan, it was all he could talk about. Santangelo’s mother had attended Michigan and he’d grown up in the state bleeding maize and blue. At one point, Santangelo took Brady around the clubhouse and introduced him to the guys, including Pedro Martinez, the ace, and Felipe Alou, the manager. “I didn’t even introduce him as, ‘He’s going to sign with the Expos,’ ” Santangelo says. “It was: ‘This is Tom Brady, he plays quarterback at Michigan.’ I do remember that [Brady] was very shy. He was saying, ‘I’m like fifth-string right now, who knows how that’s going to go.’ ”
Other players took an interest, too, and soon Brady was sitting at a locker, holding court with six or seven Expos asking him questions. “We were telling him,” Santangelo says, “ ‘Why would you make $800 a month in the minor leagues when you can be the quarterback at the University of Michigan? You’re a good-looking guy, you can probably have a lot of fun off the field, too.’ … We told him: ‘Go play football at Michigan! Are you kidding me?’ ”
With Brady having already won five Super Bowls and having the chance next week to win his sixth — and not to mention the objective truth that riding buses for a living in the minor leagues is a brutal way of life for young baseball players — it’s safe to say he made the right choice.
The conclusion that Brady chose football because of Santangelo’s sage advice is, obviously, a bit of a stretch. It’s likely that Brady relied on the advice of some closer confidants as well as his own gut feeling when it came to choosing football or baseball for a career path.
But it does make for a good story, and it provides a singular target to which all of America’s angry football fans to direct their scorn. Accordingly, it provides an opportunity for Patriots fans to give some thanks to a baseball player whom they may have otherwise forgotten.