From 1982 through 1986, former Kansas City Royals scout Ken Gonzales took four separate trips to watch Vincent Edward Jackson play baseball at Auburn University. The more Gonzales saw of him, the more he liked him, something that wasn't lost on ESPN:
But take a closer look at Gonzales' scouting report from 1985 and you'll notice this bold statement: "A gifted athlete; the best pure athlete in America today."
That's actually selling Jackson short, for not only was he the best athlete in America at that time, he redefined what a modern athlete was and will forever stand as one of the most spectacular athletic specimens that the human race has ever produced.
Bo Jackson was the first athlete to be named an All-Star in two sports: as an outfielder with the Royals in 1989 and as a running back with the then Los Angeles Raiders of the NFL in 1990. Over a four-year span, from 1987 through 1990, Jackson excelled on the field for both teams.
In January of 1991, in the divisional round of the 1990 NFL playoffs, Jackson was tackled by Kevin Walker of the Cincinnati Bengals on this play—a play that changed the course of history.
The hip injury would end his football career (which Jackson planned on ending following the playoffs, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale) and should have ended his exploits on the diamond as well. But it didn't.
After surgery and rehabilitation to repair the hip, he began the 1992 season with the Chicago White Sox. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with a degenerative hip condition that ultimately required a full hip replacement. Surely this would bring an end to Jackson's short yet remarkable career.
Jackson would return to action for the White Sox in 1993 and the California Angels in 1994, playing in a combined 160 games, all with an artificial hip.
In parts of eight major league seasons, Bo hit .250 with 141 home runs, 415 RBI and 82 steals. He had four consecutive 20-home run seasons from 1987 through 1990, including a 32-home run, 105-RBI campaign in 1989.
It wasn't just his power and speed that wowed us with Bo—it was his deadly accurate cannon of a throwing arm, something he put on display in what is one of the greatest throws in baseball history.
In the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game against the Seattle Mariners in 1989, Jackson caught the ball off of the left field wall and, from the warning track, fired a strike to home plate as the speedy Harold Reynolds circled the bases.
He'd nail Reynolds at the plate—on the fly.
From his mammoth home runs to his acrobatic catches in the outfield, everything that Bo Jackson did on the diamond was larger than life—just like the man himself.