Oakland A's Sign Man Who Threw 96 MPH Pitch in Stadium Challenge

The Oakland A's have just signed an amateur who impressed the team by throwing a pitch at a blazing 96 miles per hour.

Nathan Patterson, 23, raised eyebrows when he took part in a pitch speed challenge at a Colorado Rockies game at Denver's Coors Field in June. On Thursday, Patterson signing a minor league contract with the Athletics.

nathan patterson
Nathan Patterson hasn't played baseball competitively since high school, but clocked a blazing 96 mph pitch last month at a Colorado Rockies game. Nathan Patterson @ Twitter

Patterson's brother Christian tweeted a video of his impressive feat, urging the MLB to get him signed.

Guys, we were just chillin at a @rockies baseball game, and my brother decided to step into a speed pitch challenge...he hit 96 mph 😳 @MLB Let’s get him signed! pic.twitter.com/g0fKrvUxzt

— Christian Patterson (@cpatterson_7) July 15, 2019

But Patterson didn't simply stumble into the bullpen: He's been working on his pitch since at least August 2018, when he hit 96 mph during a pitching challenge at a minor league game in Nashville.

He admits he was surprised by his speed—the last time he played baseball competitively was his senior year of high school—and he felt inspired to keep practicing and pursue a contract.

A video from January shows Patterson throwing practice pitches at speeds that are also impressive by MLB standards. Even more so, since he had a cast on his left arm at the time.

2019 Draft Eligable
-Fastball 92-95
-Changeup 81-84
-Slider 79-82

Cast comes off in 2 weeks and will start getting the upper body back in shape. You can count on upper 90’s very soon. Any feedback is appreciated!@FlatgroundApp pic.twitter.com/FWxq2rQuE7

— Nathan Patterson (@npatterson_12) January 20, 2019

According to MLB's Cut4, the average pitch speed in the league has been consistently rising, hitting 93.2 mph in 2017. Those higher speeds have also been associated with increased injury rates.

The fastest pitch in Major League Baseball is actually a source of some controversy: In 2010, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman's fastball was clocked at 105.1 mph in a game against the Padres.

But according to the 2015 documentary Fastball, Nolan Ryan beat that back in 1974 when he was playing for the Angels. Nolan's fastball was clocked at 100.9, at the time, but experts claim that if you adjust for the placement of the radar gun, it was really a hypersonic 108.5 miles per hour.

Whichever player deserves the crown, experts say such speeds are at the limits of human ability.

"I don't see it going much higher," biomedical engineer Glenn Fleisig, research director of the American Sports Medicine Institute, told Wired. "I'm sorry to say that, but I don't see it happening. Baseball isn't like other sports, where we see people running faster or swimming harder or whatever, where today's records are smashing the records from 10 years ago."

In an Instagram post showing him signing his A's contract wearing a team outfit, Patterson thanked all the people who supported him.

"My family has given me nothing but constant love and support throughout the last 9 months as I pursue a dream of mine that I've had since I was a little kid," he said. "It's been a roller coaster to get here with many challenges and overcoming adversity."