With Tom Brady preparing to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – a stunning move for the six-time Super Bowl champion – fans can’t come to grips with the idea of Brady wearing a uniform other than that of the New England Patriots.
That got us thinking about baseball players who spent the tail end of their careers in uniforms that didn’t look quite right on them – like Willie Mays with the Mets or Frank Thomas with the Blue Jays – as players synonymous with a particular organization.
In no particular order, here’s some of the most notable legends whose short-term stops you may have forgotten:
Ken Griffey Jr. – After 20 seasons with the Reds and Mariners, Griffey was traded to the White Sox in 2008 at age 38. He played 41 games for a Chicago team that won the AL Central, Griffey’s first postseason trip since 1997.
Willie Mays – Having spent 21 seasons with the Giants, Mays ended his career back where in New York where it began, getting traded to the Mets in 1972. He played 135 games with the Mets over the next two years, reaching the World Series in 1973.
Babe Ruth – Everyone knows the story of Ruth beginning his career with the Boston Red Sox, but he also ended his career in Beantown, getting traded from the Yankees to the Boston Braves for the 1935 season. He hit six home runs in 28 games for the Braves.
Harmon Killebrew – Ranking 12th on the all-time home run list, Killebrew spent the first 20 years of his career with the Minnesota Twins (who were previously the Washington Senators), before signing with the Royals for the 1975 season.
Frank Thomas – After 16 years with the White Sox, Thomas joined the Athletics for the 2006 season and finished fourth in MVP voting with 39 homers and 113 RBI. That earned him a two-year contract with the Blue Jays, where he hit his 500th career home run. Toronto released him in April 2008 and Thomas went back to Oakland for the final 55 games of his career.
Randy Johnson – A five-time Cy Young winner, Johnson joined the Giants in 2009 at the age of 45 and picked up his 300th career win with San Francisco. He pitched 22 games for the Giants that season, the final year of his career.
Pedro Martinez – The right-hander signed with the Phillies in the summer of 2009 and wound up being a major contributor as the team reached the World Series for the second year in a row. He went 5-1 in the regular season before making three starts in the playoffs.
Yogi Berra – He retired after the 1963 season, his 18th with the Yankees, only to become the team’s manager in 1964, reach the World Series and then get fired. Berra joined the crosstown Mets as a coach for 1965 and wound up making four appearances as a catcher early in the year. He stayed on the Mets’ staff for years, eventually succeeding Gil Hodges as manager in 1972.
Hank Aaron – The first 21 years of his career were spent in a Braves uniform, first in Milwaukee from 1954-1965 then Atlanta through 1974. The Braves traded him back to Milwaukee to finish his career, playing two seasons with the Brewers, who had joined the league in 1969.
John Smoltz – The Hall of Famer played 20 seasons for the Atlanta Braves but found himself a free agent at the age of 41. He signed with the Red Sox and made eight starts (8.33 ERA) before being released in August. Smoltz then signed with the Cardinals, making seven starts in the regular season and an appearance in the NLDS.
Juan Marichal – The legendary Dominican right-hander had a 2.84 ERA in 14 seasons with the Giants, before spending 1974 with the Red Sox and 1975 with the Dodgers.
Willie McCovey – The Giants traded McCovey to the Padres before the 1974 season, playing two-plus years with San Diego and 11 games for the Athletics in 1975, ultimately returning to San Francisco for the final four years of his career.
Manny Ramirez – Waived by the Dodgers in August 2010 and played 24 games for the White Sox down the stretch that year. He was then signed by the Rays in 2011 and only played five games with Tampa Bay before retiring to avoid a PED suspension, never playing in the majors again.