It must take quite an athlete to twice earn All-American status in two different sports… no matter at what level of college athletics he or she performs.
Such was the case with former NFL linebacker, Peter Barnes of Southern University.
Not only was Barnes recognized twice as an All-American (by the Pittsburgh Courier in 1965 and 1966) for his prowess on the gridiron, he was also twice honored as an All-American baseball player for the Jaguars in 1966 and 1967 by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
In an eleven year career that started out in 1967 as a sixth round draft pick of the, then Houston Oilers and ended in 1977 with the New England Patriots, Pete Barnes played in a total of 142 professional games in both the old American Football League (AFL) and National Football League. A career best five interceptions in 1969 with the San Diego Chargers helped Barnes earn recognition on the Associated Press All-AFL team that year.
Of his accomplishments on the football field, Pete Barnes’ biggest claim to fame might be that his $45,000 signing bonus in 1967 was, at the time, reported to be the largest ever given to a ballplayer from an historically black school. The enticing bonus was a major inducement in his choice of pro football over pro baseball.
The “hulking” 6′-3″, 230 lb athletic specimen was equally talented on the baseball diamond where he hit for both power and average.
As an outfielder for the Southern University nine from 1964-1967, Pete Barnes earned All-Southwestern Athletic Conference honors each of his four years in school. As a sophomore in 1965, Barnes finished fourth in the country hitting a robust .506. He also ranked high amongst the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics leaders in homeruns (7) and runs batted in (41). The following year (his first of two straight All-American seasons), Pete Barnes was again nationally ranked, hitting .436 with 8 doubles and 26 rbi.
In 1967, Barnes upped the anti for his professional services by hitting .432 and leading the NAIA in homeruns (8) and rbi (43), while earning baseball All-America recognition again.
Peter Barnes was inducted into the Southern University Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. Sadly, other than this, I have no updated information on Barnes except an unconfirmed report that he is now homeless. I hope that sometime soon I can uncover information that proves this to be inaccurate… I hope!