Cole Kmet ’17 helped lead the Lions to a pair of state playoff appearances during his four years on Saint Viator High School’s football team. Along the way he developed a close relationship with one of his assistant coaches, Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV. At the same time, Kmet played a key role in winning the school’s first state baseball championship during his senior year. No wonder, he looked for a college that would allow him to pursue both football and baseball.
Notre Dame agreed, and Kmet, now in his sophomore year and a tight end for the Fighting Irish, is the first dual sport athlete to have been the starting pitcher in a baseball game since 2010.
His uniqueness stood out 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 — on both sides — who also plays baseball.
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 Cooperstown announced they had requested — and received — Kmet’s helmet to be added to their collection.
To this day, it is the only football helmet to be acquired by the Hall of Fame.
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.
“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 one day 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,” Kmet added, “make its way all the way to the Baseball Hall of Fame.”