On this day in 1962, the Chicago White Sox signed University of Detroit hoops star Dave DeBusschere to a contract, right around the same time the Detroit Pistons were selecting him in the NBA Draft. The 21-year-old, 6’6″ right-handed pitcher played two seasons with the White Sox while also playing for the Pistons.
During his two-year foray into baseball, DeBusschere went 3-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 36 games. The highlight of his baseball career was twirling a complete game shutout against the Cleveland Indians on August 13, 1963. In that game, he allowed only six hits, striking out three and walking one. DeBusschere is also the proud owner of one Major League base hit, which he collected against Bennie Daniels on July 17, 1963. DeBusschere pitched two more seasons in the minor leagues following the 1963 season before focusing on basketball.
Turning to the hardwood was probably the best decision DeBusschere made. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie team after averaging 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds during the 1962-63 season. After an injury plagued 1963-64 season, the small forward’s career really took off in the NBA. He finished his NBA career averaging 16.1 points and 11.0 rebounds, won two championships with the Knicks, and was ultimately elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. In 1996, DeBusschere was named to the NBA 50th Anniversary team.
There have also been 11 other athletes to play in both the NBA and the MLB. Two of the most prominent are Danny Ainge, who played three forgettable seasons with the Jays before going on to great success as a player and executive with the Boston Celtics, and Dick Groat, who played one season with the Fort Wayne Pistons in the dawn of professional basketball before compiling over 2,100 hits in the big leagues and winning the 1960 NL MVP award. Groat is a member of both the collegiate basketball and baseball Halls of Fame and currently serves as a color analyst for Pittsburgh Panthers basketball games.
Mark Hendrickson is the most recent player to appear in both the MLB and NBA. The 6’9″ lefty recently announced his retirement from professional baseball. Hendrickson averaged 3.3 points per game in 114 career NBA games and compiled a 58-74 record with a 5.03 ERA in 328 games in the MLB.