Fan who hit 96 mph at Rockies speed pitch challenge signs contract with Athletics

Cassandra NegleyYahoo Sports Contributor

Talk about an unconventional path.

Nathan Patterson and his brother, Christian, were “just chillin” at Coors Field during a Colorado Rockies game a few weeks ago when Nathan decided to try his hand at the speed pitch challenge.

The right-hander hit a viral-worth 96 mph.

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Turns out his hand is worthy of an MLB contract. The Oakland Athletics signed the 23-year-old to a minor league contract Thursday.

The Rockies are taking as much heat as is on his fastball for not signing Patterson themselves since it was, literally, their house. But there’s a little more background to the story still.

The real story behind A’s radar booth fan signing

It wasn’t all because of one radar booth at a Rockies game that the A’s signed Patterson. It was actually two, plus training.

Patterson hit 96 mph on a radar gun — in line with some of the major league’s fastest pitchers — last August at a Nashville Sounds game, which was then the A’s Triple-A affiliate.

He told MLB.com the number surprised him since he hadn’t thrown “for a few years before that.” He played high school baseball but “didn’t really have a good arm then,” he told MLB.com.

It inspired him to work toward the dream of pitching, but in December he was hit by a car and had surgery on his left wrist. It didn’t stop him from returning to the sport and he trained with former A’s pitcher Jarrod Parker at Parker Sports Performance in Nashville.

In January, he shared a video on Twitter, two weeks before the cast was due to come off, showing his pitching progress.

College coaches reached out in the replies, but the A’s trumped all when they started talking to him in February, per MLB.com.

“A few days later [after the Rockies game] the A’s gave me a call,” he said.

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