Justin Fletcher, a second baseman for Northern Illinois in 2015, remembers a few things from playing Texas Tech in baseball that year.
First, he remembers NIU getting trounced in a series. He also recalled a random at-bat in the ninth inning of one game because of a weird reaction afterward.
A young pitcher came in, threw 15 pitches and couldn’t find the plate. He threw just four strikes. Fletcher was the third hitter to face the freshman pitcher, and he walked and took his base. He took off his elbow guard, looked over for the sign from the third-base coach and saw the Red Raiders’ pitcher was being taken out. He was given a standing ovation by the Texas Tech fans.
“I was like, ‘Why in the world are they giving him a standing ovation?’ It was the weirdest thing,” Fletcher said from his baseball facility in Central Illinois. “I got back in the dugout and asked, ‘What was going on with them giving him a standing ovation, were they being mean to him?’ My teammates were like, ‘He’s the starting quarterback on the football team.’ ”
That pitcher/quarterback was Patrick Mahomes, who didn’t pitch again for Texas Tech and retired from college baseball with an infinity ERA. There is actually something the NFL’s reigning Super Bowl MVP couldn’t master.
Patrick Mahomes’ infinity ERA
Mahomes’ dad was a major league pitcher for 11 seasons and has 42 wins on his record. Patrick II has one of the most famous cannon arms in sports, which he shows off as quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Mahomes wasn’t bad at baseball and still uses some of the training techniques and equipment in his football career. He threw in the low 90s as a pitcher in high school, once tossed a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 37th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. But he made the right call picking football.
He pitched once for Texas Tech’s team. He remembers it, though he misremembered the details.
According to Texas Tech’s box score, Mahomes’ only pitching appearance came in the ninth inning on Feb. 21, 2015. The Red Raiders led 6-0 but thanks to Mahomes’ outing, that lead was quickly in jeopardy.
“I came into the game, walked the first guy I believe, hit the second guy, I gave up a double and they scored a run,” Mahomes said Wednesday during his Super Bowl availability. “Then I got taken out of the game.”
Close, but not exact. According to the official record, Mahomes walked a hitter, hit one and then walked Fletcher before he was pulled.
“Northern Illinois 9th - Davis, Z. to cf for Hargrove. Mahomes II to p for Patterson. RUSSELL, C. pinch hit for BOYLE, J.. RUSSELL, C. walked (3-1 BBBKB). ZIEGLER, M. hit by pitch (3-2 BKBF); RUSSELL, C. advanced to second. FLETCHER, J. walked (3-1 BBBKB); ZIEGLER, M. advanced to second; RUSSELL, C. advanced to third. Thompson to p for Mahomes II.”
Fletcher confirmed that he didn’t get a hit off Mahomes.
“He didn’t give up a double,” Fletcher said. “He just couldn’t find the zone.”
All three baserunners Mahomes put on base scored. Texas Tech had to hang on to a 6-4 win. Mahomes’ career college ERA isn’t even a number. Mahomes also had two at-bats in college and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
“I think I have like an infinity ERA, which isn’t probably a good one,” Mahomes said. “That’s not something I’m very proud to have on my record.”
Mahomes’ athletic career turned out OK.
A brush with fame
Fletcher is a football fan but until last year he never put two and two together and realized the wild Texas Tech pitcher who got the standing ovation was Patrick Mahomes.
Fletcher got a call asking about it, which jogged his memory. By now he said “my buddies know,” and that a Twitter mention of Mahomes’ one college baseball pitching outing recently got sent to a group text chat among his friends.
“Really, it wasn’t anything like, ‘Holy cow this guy throws 95,’” Fletcher said. “It was just your average Division I pitcher who can throw 90-92, and he didn’t have good command.”
The kids at his baseball facility like football and Fletcher said when he asked them about the Super Bowl, all of them said the Chiefs would win because nobody can beat Mahomes. Most of them don’t know that Fletcher had a fun brush with the NFL’s biggest star.
“I’ve told a couple of them, especially this week,” Fletcher said. “It is pretty cool to think about. There’s only three people that did it in a Division I baseball game.”
More from Yahoo Sports: