Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson are two of the most famous, “modern,” two-sport professional athletes. But did you know there is an NBA Hall of Famer who also pitched for the Chicago White Sox? Among the 13 athletes to play in both the NBA and MLB, Dave DeBusschere was undoubtedly the most successful at basketball. Still, many of today’s collectors may not know a lot about him, so in this article, I’ll share his professional accolades and history along with every baseball and basketball card Topps printed for him.
Dave DeBusschere attended the University of Detroit between 1959 and 1962. He averaged 24 points per game made the NIT twice and the NCAA tournament once. He also pitched for the baseball team, leading them to 3 NCAA tournament appearances.
He was signed as a free agent by the White Sox in 1962. The same year he was a territorial draft selection in the 1962 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. He played for the White Sox in the majors from 1962-1963 and in the NBA for the Pistons between 1962 and 1968 and for the New York Knicks between 1968 and 1974. After two more years of minor league pitching, he eventually gave up baseball to concentrate on playing and coaching basketball.
He had a career 3-4 win/loss record as a pitcher with a 2.90 earned run average as a baseball player.
His first baseball card was in the 1963 Topps set, with two variations.
He also had cards in the 1964 and 1965 Topps baseball sets.
DeBusschere had an impressive NBA career, where he was known as an elite defensive player, which resulted in his election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. Over his career, he averaged 16.1 points per game, 11 rebounds per game, and 2.9 assists per game. He was a 2x NBA champion with the Knicks, made 8 All-Star games, and was a 6x All-Defensive First Team member.
His first basketball card was in the notoriously rare 1968 Topps Test release, so his 1969 Topps Tall Boy is more classically considered his first Topps basketball card.
Topps also printed cards for him in 1970, 71, 72, 73, and he was on the Knicks Team Leaders card in 1974.
Today, most athletes commit to a single sport long before going professional, though some successful two-sport athletes play both sports in college. Like Tim Tebow or Michael Jordan, others have tried to transition between sports, but few have had Dave DeBusschere’s success.
PS: The 13 men who have played in the NBA and MLB are: Danny Ainge, Frank Baumholtz, Hank Biasatti, Gene Conley, Chuck Connors, Dave DeBusschere, Dick Groat, Steve Hamilton, Mark Hendrickson, Cotton Nash, Ron Reed, Dick Ricketts, and Howie Schultz.