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It’s crazy, in hindsight, that this was the last name left on the Pop Warner football draft board back in sixth grade:
But, Brett Baty recalls, Wilson had just moved to Texas from Ohio. No one knew much about him, certainly not that he’d grow up to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, a speedy wide receiver who has set Jet fans’ dreams aglow.
“It’s a funny story,” Baty says. “Our coach had no idea. It was a random name in the draft. But even in sixth grade, Garrett was still, head and shoulders, the best athlete I ever saw or played with. We had a great football season together. On third down, I’d throw it up to him.”
Baty later concentrated on baseball and is now one of the Mets’ most promising farmhands, ranked as the 26th-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com, and Wilson was picked 10th overall by the Jets out of Ohio State last month. The pair grew up together and went to Lake Travis High School together, starring in sports. They played a few different levels of football and basketball together – Baty’s dad, Clint, is the varsity basketball coach.
In 2017-18, Wilson was named the area’s Male Athlete of the Year by the Austin American-Statesman – Lake Travis is about 20 miles west of Austin – and Baty won the award the very next year. Wilson’s award sits in the football fieldhouse at the school – the same high school that Baker Mayfield attended – and Baty’s is on display at the baseball fieldhouse.
Now, thanks to the draft in two different sports, they can enjoy a reunion of sorts. They are delighted. “I know his whole family,” Wilson says. “It’s crazy that we’re in the same place.”
They’re both eyeing plans for MetLife Stadium or Citi Field to see the other play.
“When he’s there playing his first game, I’ll for sure be in the stands,” Wilson says. Wilson knows there’s a long-standing crossover between many Jets and Mets fans – “I did my research,” he says – and he’s already a Mets fan. “I’ve always loved Francisco Lindor,” he says. “I won’t have any problem rooting for the Mets and then Brett will get there.” Before he spoke to a reporter earlier this week, Wilson was watching the Mets play the Braves on television.
Says Baty: “I’ve never followed the Jets in my life, now I'm one of the biggest Jets fans.
“I can’t get over the fact that he’s going to be a New York Jet,” Baty adds. Baty has already told friends back home: “Tickets are on me. We’re going up to a Jets game this (baseball) offseason, first chance we get.”
Both have fond memories of playing together growing up and each thinks the other might have had a glittery future in a different sport than the one each ultimately chose, too. “Brett was a real good quarterback,” Wilson says. “I came in as a quarterback. He could sling it better than me, so I moved to receiver.
“I’m confident he would’ve been in the NFL as a quarterback,” Wilson adds. “He was that good. He says he was just throwing it up to me, but the bombs he was throwing were 45, 50 yards and we were in sixth grade. He’s real humble.”
Wilson, who is 6-feet and 192 pounds, played basketball for Baty’s dad – a few of those seasons, before baseball took over, Baty, listed at 6-3 and 210 pounds now, was a power forward. Wilson was a star, though, and his father, Kenny, is the seventh-leading all-time scorer at Davidson College. “Garrett was one of the best basketball players I’ve ever seen, too,” Baty says. “If he chose basketball, no doubt he’d be in the NBA right now.”
Baty, who’s now 22, had a tremendous senior season in baseball, batting .602 with 19 home runs. He was also 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA as a pitcher. “I tried to go to a lot of the home games his senior year,” Wilson says. “I got to see a few home runs.”
The two became pals playing football, though. As freshmen, they’d watch the varsity games together from the sidelines. Then Wilson got promoted. “He got called up to varsity as a freshman, which is kind of unheard of in Texas football,” Baty says. “He balled like normal. It was nothing to him.”
The night of the NFL Draft, Baty and the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies played the Erie Sea Wolves. Baty, who hit a three-run double in the game, says he sought Wilson updates from one of the club’s video coordinators, a big Ohio State fan.
“I’m coming in every inning asking, ‘What do we got?’” Baty says. “He went 10th to the Jets and we started high-fiving.”
Wilson laughs when he hears that nugget. “That is hilarious,” he says. “I didn’t know that. That’s awesome.”
The two connected after the draft, but Baty says he waited a few days to reach out. Baty, a third baseman who was the Mets’ first-round pick in 2019, 12th overall, knows how frantic the days can be before and after the life-changing moment of being drafted. “Your phone has blown up,” Baty recalls. “You can’t get back to everyone and you feel bad. I waited a few days and he was super happy. I told him, ‘You deserve everything you’re getting right now.’
“I can’t wait to watch him ball in the NFL.”
Before they got here, though, Wilson and Baty were together on the Lake Travis Cavaliers youth team. The two posed for a photo after the last game of the season (It’s the one with this story).
“End of the year, we wanted to have a picture to remember, so we’d be able to look back and laugh at it and think about the memories we made,” Wilson says.
There’s more to come now, just in a different place.