Northwoods League All-Star Game 5

Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen shakes hands with Mankato MoonDogs pitcher Nolan Pender after throwing out the first pitch before the Northwoods League All-Star Game on Tuesday at ISG Field.

MANKATO, Minn. — Adam Thielen confidently walked to the pitcher's mound, glove in one hand and a baseball in the other.

He spotted the catcher, went into the windup and ... threw a pitch that skipped to the backstop.

"I was never a pitcher," Thielen said. "I like to catch it."

Thielen, the former receiver at Minnesota State who is about to begin his ninth training camp with the Minnesota Vikings, threw the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday's Northwoods League All-Star game at ISG Field.

Clearly more comfortable catching the ball on a football field than throwing it on the diamond, Thielen said he played a lot of baseball growing up. He was on the high school golf team but played Legion baseball until he was in college.

But while it was baseball that brought him back to Mankato on Tuesday, there were plenty of other reasons to return where he starred in college.

"I love this community," he said. "The people, the relationships ... I love coming down here any time I get the chance. The people in this community have really embraced me."

Thielen will be back in football gear on July 27 when the Vikings begin training camp.

Thielen caught 74 passes for 925 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, bringing his career totals to 397 receptions, 5,240 yards and 39 touchdowns. 

"Every year, you get the opportunity to play," he said. "It's a long offseason, with a lot of practice and working out. I'm looking forward to playing again and having a lot of fun."

Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.

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