For more great baseball stories like this one, 'like' us on Facebook -

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Jeff Tuss played, later chose football to Angels' surprise

Jeff Tuss 1990 West Palm Beach Expos card

Drafted out of high school by the Expos in 1988, Jeff Tuss had a decision to make: Did he want to turn pro in baseball? Or go to college - and play football?, his hometown Helena Independent-Record wrote.

He'd already signed a letter of intent to play for the Pac-10 Washington Huskies, making the decision even bigger, The Independent-Record wrote.

"I am going to give it (baseball) some real serious consideration," Tuss told The Independent Record.

Tuss ultimately did choose the Expos and baseball. But, after four seasons where he only climbed as high as high-A, he revisited that decision. And his choice inadvertently led to one of baseball's more unusual trades, the Angels essentially unknowingly trading for a quarterback.

Tuss' baseball career began in 1988, taken by the Expos in the 45th round of the draft out of Capital High School in Helena.

Tuss started with the Expos in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He went 1-3, with a 2.60 ERA over 9 outings, 7 starts. That first season over, he spoke to The Independent-Record about his experience and his move to baseball.

"I enjoy what I'm doing," Tuss told The Independent-Record then. "I am happy and that is the most important thing."

Tuss returned to the GCL for 1989, then made high-A West Palm Beach for 1990. He went 6-3 there, with a 2.11 ERA over 29 relief outings. 

He played the next two seasons back at West Palm Beach. He saw 49 appearances in 1991, then 30 more in 1992. 

That December, Tuss' agent relayed to the Expos that Tuss would quit to return to football at Fresno State. But that message didn't make it to the Angels, who traded for Tuss in January only to learn the pitcher was quitting to be a quarterback. 

The trade led Baseball Prospectus to revisit the trade in 2018 for its unusual nature. 

At the time, the situation left Angels staff unsure what happened. Angels vice present for player personnel Whitey Herzog figured they'd soon settle with the Expos on another player, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“It sure is strange, though. It’s the first I heard of something like this. Why the hell would he want to play football now?" Herzog told The Times. "Oh well, let him go play football. I didn’t expect him to be Walter Johnson, anyway.”

The Expos did settle up, sending the Angels a different player instead.

As for Tuss, he went to Fresno State, then transferred home to Montana State, where he was named starting quarterback for 1995 and then returned in 1996 after a brief stint moved to backup.

"Sometimes you might feel differently than what the coaches do, but they know what's best for the team," Tuss told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle upon his return to starter. "I was patient and I tried to improve and get better every practice. If I only got three reps in practice, I tried to make them as good as possible."

Jeff Tuss 1990 West Palm Beach Expos card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,324
Made the Majors:1,397-32.3%
Never Made Majors:2,927-67.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569
10+ Seasons in the Minors:351

No comments:

Post a Comment