Anthony Alford shows dash between the bases during the Canberra Cavalry’s Australian Baseball League clash with the Adelaide Bite on Monday.
Anthony Alford shows dash between the bases during the Canberra Cavalry’s Australian Baseball League clash with the Adelaide Bite on Monday. BEN SOUTHALL SMP IMAGES

Anthony Alford plays hardball with his sporting future

CANBERRA Cavalry centre-fielder Anthony Alford has no regrets after turning his back on a potentially lucrative career in the NFL to play baseball.

The supremely gifted athlete played nine games - five at quarterback - for Southern Mississippi in 2012, before notching up three games at The University of Mississippi Rebels (Ole Miss) as a back-up safety defender.

However, Major League franchise the Toronto Blue Jays had long been aware of his immense talent on the baseball field after picking him up in the third round of the 2012 MLB draft.

Alford was originally going to play baseball each American summer while playing football in the fall and spring.

But the Blue Jays made him a strong enough offer at the end of the season for him to give up football, and he obliged.

The 20-year-old got married in 2014, with the security of the Blue Jays offer too good to turn down.

"I saw baseball as the best way to provide for my family in the future. I just wanted to give it a good shot," Alford told APN.

"Every time I went to play baseball there were recruiters watching me. They told me how they felt about me and how much they value me."

Alford's lightning-fast speed has seen many take notice of his raw potential at the Cavalry this summer, and he seems tailor-made for the outfield.

"My speed has always been a part of my game - football and baseball - it's always been a threat," he said.

"You've got to have speed as a safety. There's a lot of covering the receivers."

Despite biding his time as a back-up quarterback and safety, the skills he learnt in college football are now helping him as a baseballer.

"For football and baseball, it's two different arm motions, but it helped me keep my arm in shape when I was playing quarterback," he said.

Alford played in front of some huge crowds during his college football stint in a gridiron-mad country.

"The capacity is 70,000 (at Ole Miss) and we average 70,000, and they're expanding the stadium right now," he said.

"You go to other games and you'll get 100,000, or over 100,000."

But he has always been about grabbing his opportunities, be it stealing bases like the two in one inning he pinched against the Bandits recently in Brisbane - or walking away from big-time college football to re-evaluate his future.

"When the opportunity comes (to steal a base) I just take advantage of it. There's no particular time," he said.

"I try to always make my (career) decisions with no regrets - I never look back."

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