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Baseball Boys, Mahomes Men: How a Father-Son Bond Forged a Champion

Patrick Mahomes II as a child, credit Kathy Willens / Associated Press

In honor of Father’s Day, join us at Legends On Deck for a deep dive into one of the most fascinating and famous pairs of father & son professional athletes. Patrick Mahomes II, reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, past and present Super Bowl champion, Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback, and sometimes the public babysitter of wildcard Travis Kelce, has consistently spoken highly of his father, Patrick Mahomes Sr., on numerous occasions. He credits his dad for playing a significant role in his development and success. Mahomes Sr. enjoyed a successful career pitching for 11 years in Major League Baseball. What lessons did the younger Mahomes learn from the professional baseball career of his dad that shaped the athlete and the man he is today?

Imagine baseball fans’ heartbeats pulsating in rhythm with the final strike, with runners on base, saving a narrow lead, and closing a game. Likewise imagine football fans struck dizzy in awe by the soar of a legendary Mahomes pass, no-look, across his body, while scrambling, and far downfield for a touchdown. These two sports have uniquely woven themselves into the fabric of our nation’s pastimes. Stories of fathers and sons, bound together in their shared love for these games, are as timeless as the sports themselves. They’re more than just games; they’re classrooms of life where lessons of dedication to practicing improvement, sportsmanship, and the power of perseverance are learned and lived.

Enter the dynamic duo of Patrick Mahomes Sr. and Patrick Mahomes II, a testament to a father-son relationship steeped in the adrenaline-charged world of professional sports. Imagine being a kid, having a Major League Baseball player as your dad, and growing up with a front-row seat to the thrilling highs and agonizing lows of the professional sporting world. It’s in this crucible that the younger Mahomes absorbed invaluable wisdom from his father, both on the field and off the field. Their bond, fortified by a shared passion for sports and an unwavering commitment to grit and determination, is a story worth telling.

Who Was Mahomes Sr. the MLB Pitcher?

Imagine being born into the world of baseball, with your dad as a major league pitcher. That’s the true story of Patrick Mahomes II, but let’s focus now on the man who started it all: Patrick Lavon Mahomes Sr. Born August 9, 1970, “Pat” Mahomes Sr. is more than just the dad of an NFL superstar. He’s a baseball legend in his own right, with an 11-season career as a major league relief pitcher that saw him drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the sixth round of the 1988 MLB draft. After making his MLB debut on April 12, 1992, throughout his career he took the mound as a respected reliever for six teams, leaving an impression for his work ethic wherever he went.

Mahomes Sr. was a right-handed pitcher who proved his mettle in several MLB teams, including the Minnesota Twins (1992-1996), Boston Red Sox (1996-1997), New York Mets (1999-2000), Texas Rangers (2001), Chicago Cubs (2002), and Pittsburgh Pirates (2003). His 11-year MLB career boasts a win-loss record of 42-39, a 5.47 earned run average (ERA), and 452 strikeouts in 308 appearances.

Did you know Mahomes Sr. rubbed shoulders with Derek Jeter very early in his career? Both were part of the 1992 Class A South Atlantic League’s Greensboro Hornets, the New York Yankees’ farm team. They shared the field before The Captain’s career catapulted Jeter to legendary superstardom.

Before the strike destroyed the 1994 season, he was enjoying a career year in bWAR as a prolific arm for the Twins. In 21 games that season, he tossed a 4.73 ERA and a commendable 1.8 bWAR, his personal best.

One of Mahomes Sr.’s career highlights was in 1999 when he joined the New York Mets. That season, he was a bullpen dynamo, posting an impressive 8-0 record with a 3.68 ERA in 39 appearances. His performance was instrumental in propelling the Mets to the playoffs and all the way to the National League Championship Series, though they fell to the Atlanta Braves.

Take a leap back in time to October 19, 1999. It was a day of high stakes baseball when Pat Mahomes Sr. stepped onto the mound in a National League Championship Series face-off against the formidable Braves of the 90s. With the pressure on, Mahomes Sr. took over the mound from starting pitcher Al Leiter in the first inning. For four innings, he held the Braves at bay, surrendering just one hit. Despite his valiant efforts, the Mets fell to the Braves after a grueling 11 innings.

Choosing the Gridiron Over the Diamond

Patrick Mahomes II was a kid with baseball in his blood, thanks to his dad. Imagine young Mahomes II, not yet the gridiron gladiator we now revere, but a wide-eyed kid, his world revolving around the diamond dust of baseball fields. Growing up, he was no stranger to the crack of a bat against a ball, even having the chance to join batting practice with big league players. Though he would later swap his glove for a pigskin, his father’s influence was instrumental in molding his incredible athleticism and fierce competitive spirit.

Being the son of a Major League Baseball player, Patrick Mahomes II didn’t just watch sports on TV; he lived it. Clubhouses, dugouts, and batting cages were his playground, and rubbing shoulders with professional ballplayers was just part of his daily life. The baseball fields of his childhood were his first classrooms. This early immersion in elite sporting culture was a potent catalyst for his own athletic growth and ambitions.

Now Patrick Mahomes II is a household name in the NFL, but his father’s MLB influence is still evident. It was more than just a game, it was a crucible, shaping the younger Mahomes’ athletic prowess into something truly extraordinary. This exposure made him a skilled multi-sport athlete, excelling in baseball, football, and basketball during his high school years.

In high school, Mahomes II was faced with a daunting choice when the Detroit Tigers picked him in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. It was tempting to walk the same path as his father, but the thrill and challenge of football were too enticing. He thrived on the adrenaline of leading his team and making game-changing decisions in the blink of an eye. Plus, his football prowess was undeniable and had caught the eye of many college scouts. He eventually chose to enhance his skills at Texas Tech and emerged as a promising NFL prospect.

In hindsight, Mahomes II’s choice was obviously correct. Today, he stands as one of the most gifted and admired quarterbacks in the NFL, a testament to his talent, hard work, and the enduring influence of his father.

Raising a Humble Hero

Patrick Mahomes II is not just the product of his dad’s genes, but also his teachings. The wisdom and insights Mahomes Sr. gained from his time in the major leagues have been invaluable to his son, who has already far surpassed his father’s tier of professional sports achievements.

There’s a special trait that Patrick Mahomes inherited from his dad, a heartwarming lesson in humility. Despite his dad, Patrick Mahomes Sr., being a member of the top level of the baseball pyramid, he never allowed pridefulness to outshine his virtues. His humility served as an enduring beacon, a testament to his respect for others, regardless of his soaring success.

From this, Mahomes II gleaned a valuable insight: humility is the cornerstone of personal growth. It’s the key that unlocks the door to self-improvement. It’s the gentle reminder that no one is beyond fault, and that there’s always room to be better.

Mahomes II didn’t just hear about humility; he saw it in action. He witnessed how his father’s humility cemented bonds with teammates, won over coaches, and endeared fans. He learned that humility and respect are the tickets to earning trust, both on the battlefield of the gridiron and in the arena of life.

Listen to Mahomes II during interviews and you’ll hear echoes of his father’s humility and gratitude for his athletic journey. It’s a mindset that has shaped Mahomes II’s own approach to his illustrious career, reminding him to stay grounded and cherish the opportunities that come his way.

Performing Under Pressure

Mahomes II, a future Hall of Famer, drew many lessons from his dad’s honorable career in the major leagues. One of the most impactful? The significance of relentless hard work and unwavering dedication. Mahomes Sr., known for his tireless commitment to the game of baseball, passed down these values to his son. Mahomes Sr. didn’t just preach about hard work and dedication; he lived those virtues. He personally demonstrated the necessity of investing time and effort to hone one’s skills. This lesson, deeply ingrained in Mahomes II, fuels his constant pursuit of improvement. The younger Mahomes often talks about how witnessing his father’s consistent daily grind instilled in him a similar approach to football. His diligence is evident in his rise to becoming one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.

The mental toughness that Mahomes II displays on the field can also be traced back to his father’s influence. Mahomes Senior navigated numerous obstacles during his career, including injuries and setbacks. He didn’t just endure these challenges; he used them as lessons for his son on how to stay resilient and focused in the face of adversity. Mahomes II credits his dad for molding him into the mentally and physically tough quarterback he is today.

Mahomes Sr., as a relief pitcher, was often the man called upon in high-stakes scenarios. This required a cool head and seamless collaboration with his teammates. Mahomes Sr. was the man holding and hurling the baseball when his team’s precarious problems demanded immediate fixing. He imparted to his son the importance of being a team player and a leader. Mahomes II learned from his dad how to remain calm and composed under pressue and respond smartly and strategically. It’s a lesson he carries with him in crucial moments like the game-winning drive of the most recent Super Bowl in February 2023.

Showing Virtues to Stakeholders

Watching his dad navigate the pressures and politics of professional sports, as well as listening and learning during father-son conversations that we can easily imagine happened in the Mahomes household, Patrick Mahomes II learned at an early age how to behave if one day he too might ascend to the top professional league in his chosen sport. When you are a professional athlete, your life and work are influenced by and accountable to various people and groups, sometimes broadly described as stakeholders. In my opinion, because of the unique upbringing of Mahomes II, he was exceptionally well prepared to interact with the many kinds of important stakeholders he encounters. This theory of mine excellently explains why Mahomes II became the celebrated face of the new generation of the NFL so amazingly quickly, clearly, and comprehensively.

Mahomes II has mastered the art of locker room leadership. The charisma and emotional intelligence to inspire others as a leader of men are absolutely non-negotiable essentials for any franchise quarterback to succeed. This is even more true when you’re an NFL sophomore replacing the personally popular Alex Smith. Mahomes II easily earns the respect of both young and veteran players, and he fosters camaraderie among his teammates. His ability to bring a diverse group together, uniting them towards a common goal, is a skill he saw with his own eyes among the many baseball clubhouses where his dad played.

Mahomes II is great at interacting with coaches. Mahomes II entered the NFL as a somewhat raw quarterback prospect. Remember, two teams drafted other quarterbacks ahead of him. But Mahomes as a rookie already greatly understood how to take constructive criticism, keep the right attitude, improve his weaknesses, handle pressure, and make split-second decisions. Because the baseball regular season is 162 games long, Mahomes Sr. knows a thing or two about seeing coaches every day and working with them.

Mahomes II appears naturally comfortable with the Chiefs’ front office and the team’s owner. That trait didn’t come from nowhere. It’s a result of the lessons he absorbed from his dad. As a veteran MLB pitcher with a longer than average career, Mahomes Sr. dealt with a wide variety of leadership styles during his lengthy professional baseball career. They knew Mahomes II was widely considered a developmental prospect when they drafted him. Thankfully for Mahomes, he already had some idea about the fundamentals player development based on his dad’s climb to MLB. Now the bond is so strong that the Chiefs have even welcomed Mahomes II to influence their draft process.

Mahomes II is awesome at collaborating with his agent. It definitely helps to have a retired MLB dad like Mahomes Sr. when the young phenom needs to navigate the business side of professional sports, including contract negotiations and endorsement deals. The relationship between player and agent is vitally important and can be challenging, but the elder Mahomes could speak from personal experience about the process and dynamics.

Mahomes II understands and excels at interacting with the media. Having an MLB relief pitcher for a dad means living with a mentor who intimately knows about handling the highs of success and the lows of failure. Of all the baseball positions Mahomes Sr. could’ve played, relief pitcher probably shares the most similarities to quarterback in terms of receiving direct and immediate credit or blame for wins or losses. Mahomes II regularly takes responsibility for his mistakes and praises his teammates for their contributions to his success.

Mahomes II has a knack for building bridges with fans. Just like his dad, he understands and appreciates that professional sports isn’t just about the players on the field, but it’s likewise about the sea of red cheering for him from the stands. It’s a lesson he learned from Mahomes Sr.’s days on the diamond, a testament to the legacy he’s continuing. Mahomes II watched his dad interacting with fans. He knows this is not just a job requirement, but it’s a truly valuable way to say thank you for their support and to make a positive impact in their lives.

Happy Father’s Day to Pat Mahomes Sr.

Overall, Mahomes II has expressed deep gratitude and admiration for his father, recognizing the significant impact he has had on his life and career. Mahomes II recognizes that his dad’s experience as a professional athlete has been a treasured role model in helping him navigate the professional and personal challenges of being a high-profile athlete himself. Mahomes II’s upbringing by Mahomes Sr. was foundational to his success as a player and a person.

Wonderfully, things even came full circle for the Mahomes father and son, after the son’s record-breaking new contract, when the younger Mahomes bought a partial ownership stake in the Major League Baseball franchise that shares the city with his Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals!

Jeremy Cerone is a lifelong baseball fan. As a native Philadelphian, he was born and raised as a Phillies fan. He played second base as a kid, even before Chase Utley made it cool. Later, in college, he adopted the Yankees as his American League team. The Phillies remain securely as his first love in baseball. Sports journalism and commentary have fascinated him since childhood. If Mars fielded a baseball team and played the Atlanta Braves, Jeremy would openly cheer for the Martians.

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