Johnny Manziel may have had a different nickname if football hadn’t worked out for him.
The Heisman Trophy winner known as Johnny Football threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Sunday night’s game between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels.
Manziel said he talked to Texas A&M baseball coaches last summer about joining the team.
That was before the longtime Rangers fan beat out Jameill Showers for the starting quarterback job as a redshirt freshman with the Aggies along the way to a record-breaking season last fall.
Texas A&M had its first 11-win season since 1998. Manziel set an SEC record with 5,116 yards of total offense.
"Things in my life have worked out pretty well," Manziel said. "I’m pretty blessed. I wouldn’t trade it for anything."
Before Manziel became a football star at Texas A&M, he was a middle infielder in high school who looked up to former Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. He didn’t play baseball his senior season so he could graduate early and focus on football.
”I do miss (baseball),” Manziel said. ”I would love to play. But I chose a different path. Football became center stage in my life when I always thought I would play baseball.”
Manziel is a lifelong Rangers fan and said he was just as nervous throwing the first pitch Sunday night as he was in New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Rangers CEO and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan spent time chatting with Manziel in the Texas dugout before the game.
The pitch from Manziel was high and outside, and Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland had to get up from his crouch and reach up to catch the ball.
”I didn’t bounce it. That was the key,” Manziel said while smiling. ”I was a little wild. He made a nice catch there.”