Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes could go down as two of the greatest football players ever. But if they’d wanted, there was another sport out there waiting for them.
Both Brady and Mahomes played baseball growing up. Mahomes, of course, is the son of former big-leaguer Pat Mahomes, but Brady could get things done on the baseball diamond, too. In fact, both Brady and Mahomes were taken in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft years before they were chosen in the NFL Draft.
The NFL is surely grateful that Brady and Mahomes both chose football, because it’s given the league one of the best quarterback matchups in Super Bowl history on Feb. 7, 2021. But when you see Brady or Mahomes find a tricky arm slot to complete a throw or slide with great mechanics after a scramble, there’s a baseball background to point to, a reason they’ve got an extra skill here or there really nailed down.
Tom Brady’s baseball career
To those who remember Brady dropping a pass in the Super Bowl against the Eagles, don’t laugh: He was a catcher in high school. Brady played two varsity seasons and hit .311 with eight home runs for Junipero Serra in California.
According to MLB.com, the left-handed hitting Brady had prodigious power. He once hit a home run off the team bus that woke his bus driver up, and in a pre-draft workout at Seattle’s Kingdome, he apparently hit a home run with a wooden bat while still in high school.
Brady was taken in the 1995 MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round as the 507th overall selection. His commitment to play football at Michigan surely knocked him down the draft board some, and Brady wouldn’t play any more baseball after high school.
A former Expos scout, John Hughes, thought Brady could have made it in baseball, though.
“I think he would have been a pro,” Hughes told the Mercury News. “He had all the intangibles. He could throw, left-handed power. There is no reason to think this guy couldn’t have been a big-league catcher.”
And if you want to get into G.O.A.T. talk, former Expos general manager Kevin Malone thought Brady could reach even bigger heights than just an MLB starter.
“I think he could have been one of the greatest catchers ever,” Malone told Bleacher Report. “I know that’s quite a statement, but the projections were based on the fact we had a left-hand-hitting catcher, with arm strength and who was athletic.”
Brady threw out a couple of ceremonial first pitches at Fenway Park during his career with the Patriots, so maybe he’ll do so again in Tampa if the Buccaneers win Super Bowl 55. But if anyone did their homework, they’d know Brady would be most comfortable crouching behind the plate, receiving a pitch and throwing down to second base.
Patrick Mahomes’ baseball career
Baseball was always going to be a part of Mahomes’ life since his father, Pat, pitched 11 years in the major leagues as a reliever. The day after Mahomes was born, his dad picked up a save for the Twins as part of his fourth MLB season.
Mahomes’ biggest exposure as a baseball player came during the 2010 Junior League World Series, when he was a shortstop for the runner-up team from Tyler, Texas.
Mahomes continued playing baseball (and basketball) through high school. As a varsity pitcher, he once outdueled future White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech in a playoff game by throwing a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts.
“He was just a bulldog,” Kopech told the Kansas City Star. “To be honest, I think anyone who ever played with or against Patrick would’ve assumed he would’ve been a pro in any sport he played.”
Patrick Mahomes was sitting mid-90’s as a 17-year-old kid for Whitehouse HS in Texas.
Reports say he was regularly throwing a baseball “well over 200 feet by the time he was 10 years old.”
(via DonaldBoyles/YouTube) pic.twitter.com/20IdemG4j5
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) January 12, 2020
Mahomes was taken in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers, although he chose to go to Texas Tech to play football instead. He made three appearances as a freshman for the Red Raiders’ baseball team, going 0-for-2 at the plate and failing to get an out against three batters on the mound — that’s a lifetime collegiate average of .000 and ERA and WHIP of infinity.
A right-handed hitter, Mahomes was solid at the dish in high school. After throwing that no-hitter against Kopech, his team had a game later that night and he went 3-for-4 with a home run.
Maybe if Super Bowl 55 goes into overtime, Mahomes and Brady can have a home run derby to determine the champion.