Decades before Patrick Mahomes II vied for the privilege to shout, “I’m going to Disney World!” Pat Mahomes Sr. was chasing his own ring in Orlando, Florida.
The father of the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback spent 22 years in professional baseball, including stints with six Major League teams and 15 Minor League clubs. In honor of Mahomes II’s return to the Super Bowl, MiLB.com looks back at Mahomes Sr.’s baseball career.
Selected in the sixth round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft out of a Texas high school, Mahomes got off to a hot start in the Twins system. The 6-foot-1 right-hander notched a 3.37 ERA with 438 strikeouts and 269 walks in 419 2/3 innings spanning 66 starts as he advanced from Rookie Advanced to Class A Advanced in his first three seasons, starting in Elizabethton followed by stops in Kenosha and Visalia.
But it was during his fourth pro season when Mahomes kicked it into high gear. Playing for Double-A Orlando and competing with the likes of Tim Wakefield and Jeff Nelson, the Texas native topped the Southern League with a 1.78 ERA in 116 innings for a club that went on to win a title. (That ERA mark remains tops among all-time hurlers for Orlando, a franchise that was around from 1919 until 2003.) After striking out 136 while walking 57 in 18 games (17 starts) for the Sun Rays, Mahomes earned a promotion and finished the season at the highest level of the Minors.
Triple-A challenged Mahomes at times, but the Twins prospect continued to be a reliable arm for his club, going 3-5 with a 3.44 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 36 walks in 55 frames over nine starts for Portland. Mahomes and the Beavers reached the postseason, but just like with the Oaks a year prior, his squad was bounced after the first round.
That offseason, Mahomes became No. 25 overall prospect, per Baseball America. The then-21-year-old pitched at big league camp and felt confident about how he could contribute to the Twins.
“I’d be disappointed [if I didn’t make the big league roster],” he told the Associated Press in April 1992. “But I’d just have to go to Portland and take care of business.”
Fortunately for Mahomes, he broke camp with Minnesota and made his Major League debut on April 12 against the Rangers.
Major League reliever
Mahomes’ first stint in The Show lasted nine outings before he was sent down to Portland in June, though he got called back up in September.
''I tried to throw the ball past everyone, which I could do for three or four innings,'' Mahomes told the New York Times of his pro debut in 1999. ''Then they made adjustments. And I didn't have anything to adjust with.''
From 1992 to 2003, Mahomes bounced between the Majors and Minors, only spending the whole season in The Show in 1993, ’94, 2000 (with the Mets) and ’01 (Rangers). After being relegated to the bullpen -- which he told The New York Times was a punishment for showing up late, possibly due to his penchant to party -- the right-hander was traded to the Red Sox on Aug. 26, 1996 for a player to be named later (Brian Looney). But after hurling 22 1/3 frames for Boston and 31 2/3 for Triple-A Pawtucket, he was released on June 27, 1997.
Mahomes then took his talents to Japan, where he played for the Yokohama BayStars for parts of two seasons. According to The New York Times he underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his left elbow between the two campaigns. When he returned to the mound, it was not for long, amassing 43 2/3 innings that second season in Japan. He told the paper he realized it was time to grow up and come home.
“I figured I wasn't a boy anymore,'' Mahomes said. ''I knew I would have to work harder just to get a good look.''
That hard work paid off as Mahomes was signed by the Mets in December 1998. After starting the '99 season with Triple-A Norfolk, he was called up to the senior circuit on May 15 and earned the win as a middle reliever.
Mahomes remained in the Majors the rest of his short Mets career, helping the club reach the National League Championship Series in 1999 and returning as a reliever in 2000.
"I always felt I could count on Pat," then-manager Bobby Valentine told ESPN in 2019. "He was one pitch short for a starter, but he was the perfect long man and a godsend for us. He could throw every day, he was a great athlete for a pitcher, and a joy to have on the team. His fastball was pretty straight and it got caught a couple of times, but you always wanted someone on the mound who wasn't afraid. And Pat was never afraid in big games."
Over the next three years, Mahomes signed with the Rangers, Cubs and Pirates. Now in his early 30s, he spent most of 2002 and '03 in the Minors, making stops at Triple-A Iowa and Nashville. On Aug. 26, 2003, Mahomes got a rare start for Pittsburgh and earned the “W” in his final Major League game.
In 709 big league innings, Mahomes went 42-39 with a 5.47 ERA, 452 strikeouts and 392 walks in 308 games (63 starts). But his pro career was far from over.
From 2004 to '07, Mahomes pitched in the Pirates, Marlins, Expos, Dodgers, Royals and Blue Jays farm systems. His jerseys read Edmonton, Albuquerque, Nashville, Las Vegas, Omaha and Syracuse.
In those final four years, Mahomes went 17-23 with a 5.85 ERA, 192 punchouts and 122 free passes in 110 games (25 starts) over 263 innings. And even then he was not done, pitching in indy ball until 2009, when he was 38.
“It’s hard to get on the bus, eat hot dogs and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. It’s not glamorous,” Mahomes told the Kansas City Star in 2019. “I was fortunate enough to make it [to the majors (sic)] quick, but then I had some times where I had to go back and start over again. I have much respect for these guys who come out here and play every day and try to play at a high level.”
Past the highs of pitching in the Majors and the lows of riding the bench outside of affiliated ball, Mahomes’ athletic legacy and name lived on with his oldest son, Patrick. (Younger son, Jackson, found his own spotlight on the social media app TikTok.)
When Patrick was 4, he got to go to work with his dad at Shea Stadium.
"An adorable kid," Valentine told ESPN. "I recall Patrick running around in my clubhouse, jumping up and giving guys high-fives after games. During batting practice, Pat would take him into the outfield behind second base."
Growing up around baseball, Patrick played America’s pastime as well as basketball, and of course, football. In his senior year of high school in 2014, the Texas native threw a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts. The opposing pitcher? Baseball’s current No. 39 overall prospect, Michael Kopech.
Patrick was drafted by the Tigers in the 37th round that June, but decided to honor his Texas Tech commitment instead. The 6-foot-3 gunslinger split time between the gridiron and the diamond his freshman year and made three appearances his sophomore campaign before turning his focus solely to football.
That seems to be working out thus far for Patrick with MVP honors, a Super Bowl ring and another appearance under his belt.
“You know I was pretty proud of my baseball career,” Mahomes Sr. told USA Today in 2018. “But I’ve got to say, he’s already passed me up."
Kelsie Heneghan is a writer for MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.