If not for the bushy-haired, rocket-armed young quarterback who will lead the Kansas City Chiefs onto the field for Sunday’s Super Bowl LIV, the name Pat Mahomes would likely be relegated to the furthest corner of Minnesota Twins history. In 1995, the first year I remember actively following the Twins, there were two things I knew: you wanted to see Kirby Puckett play, but you didn’t want to see Mahomes pitch.
Even as a ten year old, I could understand that a hurler with this stat line—4-10, 6.37 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 94.2 IP, 22 HR—was bad. To be fair, I can see why the organization gave Mahomes an extended look. In the strike-shortened ‘94 campaign, as a 23-year old, he went 9-5 in 120 innings with a 4.73 ERA. While the peripherals were troubling (6.21 FIP, 1.53 WHIP, 0.85 K/BB), there was perhaps some potential in his arm.
Unfortunately for Twins fans, such potential was never realized in the white and navy pinstripes. After that putrid ‘95 season, ‘96 went little better: After posting a 7.20 ERA in 45 innings—featuring an astounding 2.00 WHIP—the Twins cut bait and traded him to the Boston Red Sox.
Remarkably, however, the fate of Mahomes’ career turned in 1999. Pitching for the New York Mets, he put together a solid season out of the bullpen (63.2 IP, 3.68 ERA, 121 ERA+, 1.27 WHIP) and helped lead the Metropolitans to the playoffs. In the ‘99 NLCS, Mahomes pitched 6.1 innings and allowed only a single earned run, albeit in a series loss to the Atlanta Braves.
All told, Mahomes put up these career stats: 42-39, 709 IP, 5.47 ERA, 1.59 WHIP. In short, not exactly a sterling journey through Major League Baseball. But on September 17, 1995, his eponymous son came into this world: Patrick Lavon Mahomes II.
Young Patrick spent his high school years in Texas playing sports of all natures, but eventually decided to focus on the pigskin and set college passing records at Texas Tech. He was drafted by the Chiefs in 2017, and after two years as an NFL starter is almost re-writing the definition of the quarterback position with his athleticism and throwing acumen.
On Super Bowl Sunday, under the brightest lights and biggest spectacle in the current sports landscape, a son will be at center stage and a proud father will be watching. While that combination certainly does not carry the impact of, say, Archie Manning looking down upon Peyton or Eli, for Minnesota sports fans it is a nice remembrance (perhaps even redemption, in a certain sense) of a once-forgotten athlete being defined not by the arc of his own career, but that of his offspring.
Is that not the goal of every parent?