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Sunday, December 5, 2021

D.J. Dozier played football in college and in NFL, but he missed baseball; Later made bigs, too

D.J. Dozier had played baseball in high school and had been good enough to get scouted. But football is where he made his name, both in college at Penn State, and in the NFL with the Vikings.

So, in spring 1990, he found himself back in baseball, with the Mets in spring training. He'd loved baseball and wanted to get back to it - as a two-sport star.

"I'm not looking at baseball as a way to get out of football. Or as a way to make money," Dozier told The Associated Press that March. "Obviously, I'm not making any here. I'm having some fun and I'm playing the game I missed."

Dozier eventually played baseball enough to make the bigs, for 25 games with the Mets in 1992. He made the major leagues after appearing in five NFL seasons, with the Vikings and the Lions as a running back. 

Dozier's time in the pros - pro football - began in 1987, taken by the Vikings 14th overall out of Penn State.

He saw nine games with the Vikings in 1987 and scored five touchdowns. He then saw eight games in 1988 and 14 in 1989, when he ended with 207 yards.

Dozier then resumed his baseball career, having signed with the Mets. He'd last played in high school in Virginia Beach. He played his first season mostly at high-A St. Lucie, then also got a promotion to AA Jackson. He saw six more games with the Vikings that fall.

He played 1991 between AA Williamsport and AAA Tidewater. That August, Knight-Ridder News Service wrote about his future in both sports. Football seemed to be waning.

"D.J.'s out to prove something, maybe to himself," Mets outfield and baserunning coach Rich Miller told the service. "I guess he wants to make an impact on something in his life. He hasn't done it in football. Maybe it'll be baseball. Either way, I hope he finds it."

Dozier played one more football season, fall 1991, with the Lions. He got into six games and had nine rushes, ending his football career.

Dozier then started the 1992 baseball season at Tidewater. In May, he got his call to New York. Then still pondering a return to football, there was some talk the call-up came to entice him to stay, The AP wrote. But Mets minor league operations director Steve Phillips assured it wasn't that.

"We needed an outfielder and he was the guy we wanted," Phillips told The AP. "We liked what we saw in spring training. He certainly is an exciting offensive player."

Dozier got into 25 games for the Mets that summer. He hit .191 and stole four bases

He returned to the minors for 1993, playing with the Cardinals and Padres at AAA to end his career.

In 2018, Dozier became an author, writing the book "Decide to Dominate" with co-author Ayub H. Fleming.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,795
Made the Majors:1,282-33.8%-X
Never Made Majors:2,513-66.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:526
10+ Seasons in the Minors:316

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