Skip to Main Content
Short Shifts

Wayne Gretzky says he wanted to play pro baseball

'Great One' had dreams of suiting up for Detroit Tigers @NHLdotcom

Wayne Gretzky is one of greatest to ever lace up a pair of skates, but in an alternate universe, he might've been one of the best to ever swing a bat.

Gretzky fessed up to radio show host Dan Patrick that he actually wanted to be a professional baseball player and would have preferred to be the shortstop for the Detroit Tigers.

"I would've taken baseball all day long," Gretzky said. "I grew up such a big Tigers fan."

Watch: Gretzky talks to Patrick

Gretzky was a multisport athlete growing up, playing box lacrosse, or indoor lacrosse, and he had aspirations of being a world-class distance runner. Even as he was dominating youth hockey, Gretzky used to fall asleep listening to St. Louis Cardinals games on radio. If not for his father, and the realization that he'd struggle to reach the big leagues playing baseball, he might have had an entirely different career.

"I grew up dreaming about competing for Canada in the Olympic games, running in the 1,500-meter or marathon," Gretzky said. "I had all these aspirations, and my dad kept clipping me over the head and saying 'you're a hockey player.'"

Fortunately for hockey fans everywhere, Gretzky listened to his dad.

"I knew at 14 or 15, I said 'OK, I love baseball, but I'm not going to be a professional baseball player. I'd better head in the direction of hockey," Gretzky said.

Upon hearing about their newest famous fan, the Tigers offered Gretzky a jersey with his name and iconic No. 99 on the back.

Tweet from @tigers: ��@OfficialGretzky

To be the Tigers shortstop, Gretzky likely would have had to beat out legendary Detroit shortstop Alan Trammell, who played 20 seasons for the Tigers between 1977-96, or switch to a different position. Gretzky was listed as a third baseman on an old Toronto Blue Jays baseball card featuring his likeness.

Thankfully that "pretzel" nickname he picked up as a kid didn't stick. The Great One sounds much better.

View More

The NHL has updated its Privacy Policy effective January 16, 2020. We encourage you to review it carefully.

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.