Former NFL receiver Golden Tate to pursue ‘first love’ baseball by playing in West Coast League

Golden Tate enjoyed a fruitful, 12-year NFL career that saw him win a Super Bowl title with the Seahawks and play for four NFL franchises. His best season came in 2014, when he made the Pro Bowl after recording 99 catches, 1,331 yards and four touchdowns in his first season with the Lions, and he racked up 8,278 career receiving yards.

Now, Tate will try his hand at a sport he hasn’t played since his college days at Notre Dame. The 33-year-old signed with the Port Angeles Lefties, a collegiate summer baseball team that is part of the West Coast League, to sharpen his skills on the diamond.

“I am extremely thankful to the West Coast League and the Port Angeles Lefties for allowing me to join their league,” Tate said in a statement. “As some might know, I was drafted twice in baseball. As a child, my first love was baseball, so I’m excited about the opportunity to compete against some of the best young players in the league. I look forward to having a lot of fun and exploring baseball more.”

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Tate chose a career in football, but he was a well-regarded baseball player. He played baseball for two years while at Notre Dame and was a standout outfielder for the Fighting Irish. As a sophomore, he posted a .329/.388/.414 slash line with 73 hits — third-most on the team behind A.J. Pollock and Jeremy Barnes — and 13 steals (second-most behind only Pollock). That marked his final season playing baseball.

Still, Tate’s elite athletic skill set helped him to be selected in the MLB Draft twice, as he mentioned. Once was by the Diamondbacks, who took a chance on Tate as a high schooler in the 42nd round of the 2007 draft. Tate opted to go to Notre Dame instead.

Then, in 2010, the Giants selected him in the 50th round of the draft. At that point, Tate had already been a second-round pick by the Seahawks, so his selection by San Francisco was more ceremonial than anything else.

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But now, Tate will be back on the diamond and it will be interesting to see what he can do against some of today’s top college talent.

No matter what happens, West Coast League commissioner Rob Neyer is “excited” about Tate’s addition to the Lefties, a club based two and a half hours from where Tate starred with the Seahawks.

“We’re all excited to see Golden wearing a Lefties uniform,” Neyer said. “Considering his ties to the Pacific Northwest and his tremendous NFL career, we know our fans will love watching him. And his teammates will certainly benefit from seeing how hard a world-class athlete works toward the same thing they’re all working toward: a professional baseball career.”

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Lefties owner Matt Acker expressed a similar viewpoint and lauded Tate’s competitive spirit as he moves further into his post-NFL career.

“His passion for this sport, plus his competitiveness, work ethic, humility, and desire will be contagious to our players and opponents,” Acker said of Tate. “We see this as a unique opportunity for the Port Angeles Lefties, the West Coast League, and for Golden.”

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