Texas baseball’s new home run helmet brings motivation in bumpy season

Skyler+Messinger+completes+rounding+the+bases+after+a+making+a+home+run+into+left+field%2C+deep+in+the+fifth+inning.+Messinger+and+the+Longhorns+took+on++Oklahoma+State+on+Apr.+29%2C+2022.

Gregory Weston/The Daily Texan

Skyler Messinger completes rounding the bases after a making a home run into left field, deep in the fifth inning. Messinger and the Longhorns took on Oklahoma State on Apr. 29, 2022.

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the May 3, 2022 flipbook.

Texas baseball fans might have noticed a new trend in the dugout: After each Longhorn home run, the batter dons a Texas football helmet in celebration. The new tradition began as a gag courtesy of the football equipment staff. 

During a Tuesday night matchup against Air Force, a fouled line drive bounced into Texas’ dugout, striking assistant head coach Sean Allen in the head for a concussion scare. 

While game medics tried transporting Allen from the game on a stretcher, Allen refused, walking out of UFCU Disch-Falk Field under his own power. Allen took Wednesday night’s rematch against Air Force off to recover.

In a media availability that Thursday, head coach David Pierce reported that Allen suffered multiple fractures on the side of his cheek, but that he was back at practice.

“He looks like he got into a fight with Mike Tyson,” Pierce said.

Before their matchup against Baylor on April 22, the Texas football equipment staff left a little get-well present for Allen in the dugout. The gift was a regulation-sized Texas football helmet. 

Carli Todd, director of player development and social media manager, photographed Allen’s new football helmet between three batting helmets and posted the image to Twitter before the start of the Baylor game. 

However, it wasn’t Allen who sported the helmet during Friday’s game, but the players. 

In the bottom of the fourth inning, redshirt junior Ivan Melendez blasted his 18th home run of the season in between the batter’s eye and the scoreboard, widening Texas’ lead to ten runs over Baylor. Pretty routine for a Friday night game at the Disch.

When Melendez returned to home plate, his teammates ripped off his batting helmet and replaced it with the football helmet, bringing an already rowdy crowd of 7,300 to their feet.

“We knew coach Allen wasn’t gonna wear it,” Pierce joked. “They figured out a way to utilize it, so it’s part of the group now.”

Since Melendez put on the helmet following his 403-foot dinger, Texas has gone on a home run surge. During the Baylor series, the Longhorns blasted 14 home runs, including sophomore transfer Kimble Schuessler’s and redshirt senior Austin Todd’s first of the season. 

“Hitting is contagious,” Melendez said. “We’re just gonna keep rolling, when you hit you get a hot streak so you got to grind them out.”

While the win streak didn’t hold into the next week, as Texas was swept at home by No. 8 Oklahoma State, the Longhorns did continue to hit well. On Friday, graduate transfer Skyler Messinger blasted two home runs during the three-homer game, while Todd broke Texas’ single-season home run record set in 2010 with the 82nd of the season.

“I honestly didn’t even know that I did that,” Todd said. “The swing felt good.”

With four more bombs added Sunday, the home run count with the new tradition has reached 22, or about 26% of Texas’ total home runs on the season.

When asked if the helmet would stay, Pierce responded with an enthusiastic “of course,” and that he appreciated his players’ creativity with it. 

“I love the fact that they used their imagination and turned it into something else,” Pierce said.

But one burning question remains has Pierce ever put on the helmet?

“Nah, but I might need to though,” Pierce said. “(Allen) needs a picture with it on.”