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Gridiron Diamonds: Long Island's football/baseball stars

Jim Brown.

Jim Brown.


IDRIS CARTER, Roosevelt senior

Dual-threat quarterback, power-hitting outfielder

MIKE LADONNA, West Islip senior

Headed to NYIT to play baseball

Hard-running QB, power pitcher / clutch hitting third baseman.

BROCK MURTHA, Sayville junior

Headed to Notre Dame to play shortstop.

Dual-threat QB / Pure-hitting shortstop/pitcher

THOMAS NEALIS, Miller Place senior

6-5 TE with extraordinary catching and blocking skills / pitching prospect with live fastball

KYLE RAUSCH, Longwood senior

Headed to U.S. Naval Academy to play baseball

Impact kick returner, WR, DB / Speedy power-hitting CF


JIM BROWN, Manhasset 1953

Bet you didn’t know that one of the greatest football players in history also played baseball in high school. Believe it or not, he was an all-league pitcher/centerfielder as well as all-league in lacrosse and all-county in track, all in the same season. The fullback, who owned numerous NFL records, is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame, along with the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

CRAIG BIGGIO, Kings Park, 1984

Although he’s enshrined in Cooperstown, his top high school honor came in football, where he earned Newsday’s Hansen Award, given to Suffolk’s most outstanding football player, as a quarterback/halfback. Though he didn’t win LI high school baseball’s coveted Yastrzemski Award, he did play 20 years for the Houston Astros and collected 3,060 hits, currently 25th-best in the history of Major League Baseball.

BOOMER ESIASON, East Islip, 1979

The future NFL quarterback won the 1979 Yastrzemski Award, presented to Suffolk’s top high school baseball player, but not the Hansen. So go figure. He enjoyed an 11-year pro football career with the Bengals and Jets and was NFL MVP in 1988.

NEAL HEATON, Sachem, 1979

Heaton DID win the Yastrzemski award — in 1978- before going on to play for seven MLB teams, including the Yankees, during a 12-year MLB career. At Sachem, he was the leading receiver for a team that won the Conference AAA championship.

ROB BURNETT, Newfield, 1985

Burnett, who had a 13-year NFL career, playing primarily for the Ravens/Browns, earned Newsday All-Long Island honors as a defensive end and was an All-League catcher as a senior. He finished his NFL career with 73 sacks and a Pro Bowl appearance.

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