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Garrett Wilson and Brett Baty lit up Texas as childhood friends. Now they’re trying to take over New York

The possible future Mets third baseman was under center, and the future No. 1 Jets receiver was out wide.

A preteen Brett Baty dropped back, maybe 15 yards from the end zone, and looked for his default pass-catcher — the one he would find whenever he needed a completion. Baty watched his top target run a dig, and threw over the middle, an overthrow that was headed into the arms of a defensive back.

“The safety caught it up in the air, had it for a second,” Baty remembered, “and then Garrett just went up and snatched it out of his hands.”

Garrett Wilson, Baty was learning, could do everything on a football field. Including racking up steals, previously a stat that belonged on the basketball court.

Clint Baty, Brett’s father, watched from the stands alongside Kenny Wilson, Garrett’s father.

“I was like, ‘Oh, he just threw an interception. Wait, Garrett ended up with that?’” Clint said recently over the phone. “He’s in the end zone with the ball, touchdown.

Garrett Wilson #17 of the New York Jets runs the ball dragging Kaiir Elam #24 of the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter. The New York Jets defeat the Buffalo Bills 20-17.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“Garrett makes everybody look good.”

After his dominant rookie season, Garrett Wilson has made the Jets look good for drafting him in the first round.

Baty is trying to do the same with the Mets, who made the Lake Travis High School baseball star the 12th-overall pick in 2019.

Wilson is a finalist for the NFL’s Rookie of the Year award. Baty, the Mets’ second-ranked prospect after getting his feet wet in the majors last season, is entering Mets camp with a shot to win the third-base job, one of the major subplots of spring training.

If they both continue to make their teams look good, they would make the small, Central Texas suburb of Lake Travis look great. A pair of childhood friends who grew up about 20 miles outside Austin could be taking over New York City together.

Their first shared neighborhood was smaller.

Lake Travis is an unincorporated patch of beautiful land around a reservoir on the Colorado River that prides itself on lush, natural surroundings and football. While Baty and Wilson were getting acquainted as kids, Baker Mayfield was throwing touchdowns for Lake Travis High School.

Fate and an exceedingly poor scouting report brought Baty and Wilson together. The coaches for the sixth-grade peewee football league conducted a draft, and little was known about Wilson, who was just a name on a sign-up sheet. He was new in town, his father’s job bringing him from Ohio to Texas. So Wilson — who led all rookies with 83 receptions for 1,103 receiving yards this season, both Jets franchise records for rookies — was the last pick of Baty’s team circa 2010, which facilitated an ultra-talented squad with kids learning to tackle and helped forge a lifelong friendship.

Theirs was the best of three Lake Travis teams, Brett Baty said, and they trended to the top of the league as Baty and Wilson learned each other on the field.

Garrett Wilson (10, third row) and Brett Baty (12, top row) are seen in their ninth grade football team photo.
courtesy of Clint Baty

“I could see it right from the first practice,” Brett said. “The first time I met Garrett, I could see what he was going to become. He was just doing things that sixth graders shouldn’t be doing. He was just going up, high-pointing balls. In practice, we’d run seven on seven sometimes, they’d double-cover him, I’d just throw it up to him on third down and just hope he’d catch it. And he would always come down with it.”

Dreaded neighbor Dripping Springs — which only had one team, Brett notes, so it could assemble its version of an All-Star team — ended the title dreams of young Brett and Garrett, who became friendly rivals as standout athletes at opposing middle schools before reuniting at Lake Travis High School, where Clint was the head basketball coach.

New York Mets third baseman Brett Baty (22) gets. On during the eighth inning when the New York Mets played the Colorado Rockies Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, at Citi Field in Queens.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Kenny, Garrett’s father, was a star on the court at Davidson, and Garrett says basketball was his first love. Basketball loved him, too. Garrett was a varsity player immediately. Brett played JV as a freshman before joining his former receiver sophomore year.

Clint remembers intense practices with the two going at it. Brett was a 6-foot-3 forward. Wilson was their 6-foot “everything,” Brett said. His football footwork and athleticism translated well, and Wilson had hops.

“We think he could have been a first-round pick in the NBA, even given his size,” Brett said of Wilson, who earned plenty of looks from college basketball powers, but told them he was sticking with football. “He could jump out of the gym. He had the handle. He had the mid-range shot. He developed the 3-point shot. … He could score from anywhere on the court. He could D you up. He could go up and get a rebound, go dunk on you. He could have been an NBA prospect for sure.”

Wilson was the 2017-18 Central Texas high school athlete of the year, as voted by the Austin American-Statesman. Baty won the award the following year, though he gave up football and focused on baseball and basketball.

“He would’ve been a first-round, five-star quarterback if he wanted to,” Wilson said.

Instead, Baty was a first-round pick of the Mets in 2019, which is where their paths diverged. Wilson, who was headed back to Ohio for college to star for the Buckeyes under Ryan Day, texted a congratulations and told Baty, “You the man.”

They talked from afar. Baty was annoyed he never made it to Ohio Stadium to take in a game — the minor league schedule can be unforgiving. Three years later, the text would be reciprocated.

In April 2022, Baty was glued to NFL draft coverage to see where his buddy would land. He saw a few mock drafts project the Jets as a fit and thought to himself, “That’d be a crazy story.”

Brett and Clint watched as teams such as the Panthers, Falcons and Seahawks passed on Wilson on draft day. At No. 10 — later than the Batys envisioned, but also just as they hoped — the Jets grabbed Wilson, who would soon receive a nice text from Baty.

“I love the fact that [Brett] has a built-in high school friend in the same city,” Clint said. “Brett went there as a high school kid, and that’s tough. And now that he’s got a high school buddy there, that makes it even that much better for him to have guys he can turn to, especially outside of baseball.”

Thus far, there haven’t been too many late New York nights for the two. Wilson went to a Mets game at Citi Field last summer, but Baty was still developing with Double-A Binghamton. Baty caught the Jets’ season opener at MetLife Stadium, a loss to the Ravens, though the result didn’t matter much to Baty.

The two hugged on the field before the game.

“Just to be able to talk to him on an NFL field and in an NFL stadium and just see him with the NFL uniform on, it really — for me, I don’t know about him — but it came full circle for me. I’m like, ‘Man, we really made it,’” Baty said, before correcting himself. “I mean, we were at his game. So I was thinking, ‘Man, he’s really made it.’”

If Baty hits — and after the Mets did not sign Carlos Correa, he will have a much clearer path for at-bats at third base — he won’t have to correct himself next time.

“Soon as I get an opportunity to get out to one of his games,” Wilson said, “I’m going to be there.”