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Patrick Mahomes was destined for the big leagues . . . until he called an audible and fell in love with football

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes arrives to

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes arrives to a news conference NY Mets jersey following an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. The Kansas City Chiefs won 45-10. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga) Credit: AP/Ed Zurga

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes showed up to last Sunday night's game wearing a No. 23 Mets jersey. He even wore it at the postgame news conference. 

A tribute to his dad, former Mets pitcher Pat Mahomes, it was also a reminder that the younger Mahomes, a bona fide NFL MVP candidate, grew up in major league ballparks and could have taken a different route to stardom.

There seemed little doubt Patrick Mahomes would become a star, only not in the NFL

“He grew up in the clubhouse, ’’ Pat Mahomes, 48, said from Tyler, Texas. “He was in the [2000] World Series shagging balls, catching fly balls. He took batting practice with A-Rod almost every day when I was with the Rangers. He took ground balls with Derek Jeter. He experienced it all. His arm’s always been fantastic. I knew that was his strong point. He was always a little special so I kind of knew he was going to be an athlete. His junior year [in high school], he topped out at 96. He was going to get drafted as an outfielder but he definitely could pitch.’’

The 23-year-old quarterback enters Week 8 with a league-leading 22 touchdowns for the AFC West leaders. He’s also rushed for two TDs. He has thrown for 2,223 yards and is first with a total quarterback rating of 84.9. Mahomes’ favorite player — next to his dad — was Alex Rodriguez.

“I remember when [my dad] was on the Rangers, playing with Alex and how hard Alex worked,’’ Mahomes said in a news release by the Chiefs. “That really stuck with me. You see him hitting off the tee for hours. And you’re like, ‘Man, you are hitting home runs every single game. Why are you hitting on the tee for two or three hours?’ That is just stuff you see and you remember as a kid and it sticks with you.”

"What’s the difference between throwing a baseball and football?” said the elder Mahomes, who compiled a 42-39 record in an 11-year career that ended in 2003. “There is stuff with mechanics, of course.’’

Patrick, in his second season with the Chiefs and first year as the starting quarterback, discovered football at Whitehouse High School near his home in Tyler. He anticipated playing both sports in college at Texas Tech. “I never imagined him choosing football because he never really liked it,’’ said Randi  Mahomes, the quarterback’s mother. “I guess I held out hope he wouldn’t keep on playing. It was never something that he dreamed about until he got to college and started falling in love with the excitement. It’s a blessing without a doubt. I didn’t think it would be as overwhelming as it is. It s kind of caught me a little bit off guard. An NFL quarterback, I’m learning this from everyone around me, is pretty amazing.’’

Mahomes passed for 93 touchdowns in three seasons at Texas Tech before the Chiefs made the 6-3, 230-pounder the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He played only one season of college baseball under coach Tim Tadlock, who said from Lubbock, “I think he could have been a big leaguer as a pitcher, third baseman or centerfielder. He’s definitely a guy that whatever he chose to do he was going to be able to do it.’’

Mahomes was a pitcher and played shortstop in high school and drew the attention of scouts. “Pat had tremendous ability on the baseball field and that star power type presence and look to him,’’ Kansas City Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg wrote in an email. “Our scouts raved about his makeup and competitiveness and believed he would reach his ceiling especially on the mound. Living here in Kansas City, it’s awesome to see the energy and excitement he and the Chiefs have brought to this fanbase.’’

Pat Mahomes always assumed his son would be a big-league baseball player. “He would have been a late first-round pick out of high school,’’ Mahomes said from Tyler, “but he told everybody that he had been in love with football and that he wanted to go and see where that took him. I just told him that I knew he could be a major-league baseball player. Football is a tougher game, a shorter career, more chance for injury. But once he told me he wanted to do it and he made his mind up I just switched hats and got on and followed him every game at Tech, followed him every game in the NFL. It’s his dream and his life so I’m just letting him live it.’’

Mahomes’ godfather is LaTroy Hawkins, also a former big-league pitcher who finished his career with the Mets. “We preached to him it’s about what he wants to do not what we want him to do,’’ Hawkins said. “It made us a little bit more comfortable that he was playing the quarterback position as opposed to other positions. I think that was some comfort for us."

Mahomes said he was not disappointed his son did not choose to play baseball or that seemingly overnight he has become a bigger name than at any point in Mahomes’ major-league career. “You always want your kids to do better than you,’’ he said. “I’m just glad that he has the chance to perform on this stage and be as good as he’s been. I knew that if he had played baseball he would have been in the big leagues by now but once he concentrated on football I could see that he was going to have a chance to play in the NFL.’’

Mahomes said many of his former big-league teammates are thrilled over his son’s success. A-Rod is one of them.

“I’m so glad he went with football,’’ Rodriguez said through his spokesman. “I always remember his curiosity. No shyness in him. Just hunger to learn and be better. I’m glad that part, if not the baseball, rubbed off from his dad. I just remember playing catch with him as a kid...now I’m hoping he throws me a couple balls on the field when I visit him in K.C.”

PAT & PATRICK

PAT MAHOMES

RHP

1992-96 Twins

1996-97 Red Sox

1999-2000 Mets

2001 Rangers

2002 Cubs

2003 Pirates

Career: 42-39, 5.47 ERA

PATRICK MAHOMES

QB, Chiefs

College: Texas Tech

Draft: No. 10, 2017, by Chiefs

2018 (6-1 record)

163/251 cmp/att

2,223 yards passing

22 TDs

QB rating: 114.0

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