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Most Teams Played For in Sports History

Rob Joyce
May 14, 2019 - 2:07 pm

A seemingly minor trade for a veteran pitcher in exchange for cash considerations could wind up making MLB history. Edwin Jackson is now in the Toronto Blue Jays system after being traded from Oakland, and although his minor league numbers aren’t great in 2019 (in 14.2 innings he’s allowed 11 earned runs) he’s a call-up away from a major league record. Jackson has appeared in a game for 13 different MLB teams in his 16-year career, tied for the most all-time.

Aside from having a heck of a hat collection, Jackson is on this list of individuals around sports who took the term “journeyman” to new heights:

NHL – Mike Sillinger:

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A dozen NHL players suited up for 10 teams in a career, but only Sillinger has more than that, as he donned 12 different sweaters over a 19-year career. Spending 1992 and ’93 with the Red Wings, he was traded early in the 1994 season to Anaheim and never looked back. His four years with Detroit was his longest stint with any team, while he made the most appearances with the Blue Jackets, where he played 155 of his 1,049 career NHL games.

MLB – Octavio Dotel:

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Currently Jackson is tied with the longtime reliever Dotel, who managed to play for 13 teams over a 15-year career. After his rookie year with the Mets in 1999, Dotel actually spent the next 4.5 seasons with the Astros, before a 2004 deal shipped him to Oakland as part of the three-team Carlos Beltran trade. That started a carousel for the reliever. He played for two teams in 2007, three teams (Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Colorado) in 2010, two in 2011 and finally wrapped up his career in Detroit.

MLB – Edwin Jackson:

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Making his debut as a 19-year-old, Jackson spent limited time from 2003-05 with the Dodgers before a trade to Tampa Bay. He was there until 2008, when an offseason trade to Detroit saw Jackson’s only career All-Star appearance. His stop with the Tigers was merely the 2009 season, when he really started to become a journeyman. Due to either trades or free agency, Jackson played for two teams in each of the 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Not included in his 13-team list is the squad that just traded for him, Toronto. Technically he was a Blue Jay on July 27, 2011, when he was traded from the White Sox. Minutes later Toronto included him as part of a package deal to St. Louis. Also included in that trade? Octavio Dotel!

NBA – Four-way tie:

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In total, 13 different NBA players have hit double-digit franchises, with Ish Smith being the only active player, having suited up for 10 different teams. Chucky Brown, Jim Jackson, Tony Massenburg and Joe Smith are the co-leaders, all having appeared for a dozen different teams.

Among the unusual footnotes amongst the four, Brown played in exactly one game for 10 minutes with Dallas in 1993 before being waived. He’d also only appear in six career games with Golden State and 10 with Phoenix. And Massenburg played in 18 games for four different teams in the 1991-92 season alone: one game with the Spurs, three with the Hornets, seven with the Celtics and, finally, another seven with the Warriors, combining for 90 minutes on the court.

NFL – Shayne Graham:

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Unlike everyone else on this list, Graham spent nearly half of his NFL career with the same team. After kicking for Buffalo in 2001 and Carolina in 2002, he settled in as the Bengals’ place kicker from 2003 through 2009, making his only Pro Bowl with Cincy in 2005. From there, he spent 2010-15 with seven different teams, appearing in exactly one game for the Giants and Ravens and two with the Dolphins. And if you include the teams for whom he didn’t appear in a game (either in the offseason or as an inactive player), he signed contracts with 15 different NFL teams!

And a hat tip to backup quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan, who despite only appearing in an NFL game for four teams, spent time on the sideline for eight franchises, and was on the practice squad or an offseason signing by three more, for a grand total of 11 teams for whom he was at one time a member.