Cole Kmet ’17 holds a rare distinction among student-athletes at the University of Notre Dame. Not only is he a dual-sport athlete, but he is the first dual-sport athlete to have been the starting pitcher in a baseball game since 2010.
That uniqueness was not lost on officials during last season’s Shamrock Series football game, played at Yankee Stadium, when the Fighting Irish faced the Orange from Syracuse. Turns out Kmet was the only player who also plays baseball to appear in the game.
For the record, he caught one 17-yard pass during the game and came in multiple times on special teams and as a blocking tight end.
Thanks to the efforts of former Steele Intern and current @FightingIrish Associate Director of Athletics Communications, @Scholl, @ColeKmet’s helmet has a new home here in Cooperstown. Photo: Milo Stewart Jr. https://t.co/6hKQWItbaI pic.twitter.com/ypaXnzWtTC
— Baseball Hall ⚾ (@baseballhall) January 17, 2019
Sports writers found it ironic that this left-handed pitcher was wearing pinstripes at Yankee Stadium, to play football.
Now, that moment will live on in history. Last month, officials with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Coopersburg announced they had requested and received Kmet’s helmet be added to their collection.
It is the only football helmet to be acquired by the Hall of Fame, though there are other pieces of football history preserved in Cooperstown, officials said.
Jon Shestakofsky, vice president of communications & education at the museum said that while the majority of their collection comes from the baseball diamond, they also collect other pieces that tell the story of baseball’s connections off the field.
“We were particularly interested in collecting the helmet used by Cole,” Shestakofsky said, “a two-sport athlete who also stars on Notre Dame’s baseball team, as he clearly has a love for baseball.”
The acquisition had to be approved by the NCAA compliance department, and Kmet, himself, but that was an easy call.
“It’s obviously very cool and a tremendous honor to have something of mine in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” Kmet said. “It’s cool to know that when I go there someday I can see my helmet in the hall.”
He also liked the uniqueness of the acquisition.
“How cool to have a piece of football memorabilia make its way all the way to the Baseball Hall of fame,” Kmet added.
Kmet learned of the honor in late December, during a football practice in preparation for the team’s Cotton Bowl appearance as part of college football’s Bowl Championship Series semi-finals.
“We were able to have our head baseball coach, Mik Aoki, come out to a football practice to surprise Cole that the Hall of Fame wanted his helmet,” said Michael Scholl, assistant director of athletics communications. “So that was a special moment and made it even more unique.”
No doubt, Kmet and his family will make a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. After all, they are a baseball family, with Casey Kmet ‘19 committing to play baseball this fall at Notre Dame, and learning this month that he is a pre-season All-American.