Posted on April 7, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow began his minor league baseball career Thursday night in Columbia, South Carolina with a bang. In his first official at-bat as a professional baseball player, Tebow hit a two-run home run off Giants prospect Domenic Mazza. The left-hand hitting former quarterback took a 2-1 pitch deep to left center field to give his team a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd, a remarkable way to break the ice on a baseball career that’s been criticized by some as nothing more than a publicity stunt and a circus show.
“All of my sports experiences helped me for moments like that,” Tebow said after the game. “Playing in The Swamp or Death Valley or in Mile High Stadium in the playoffs, they all helped. So much about sports is handling moments and handling pressure.”
Tebow obviously has a lot of experience coming through in big moments on the field, just not the baseball field, and it showed. After driving the ball to left-center, Tebow busted out of the box and then pulled up at second base, believing he’d hit a ground rule double, only to then realize that the ball had left the park and then bounced back on the field.
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“I thought I had a double, and the guy goes, ‘Keep going,'” Tebow explained after the game. “I was, ‘All right, I’ll take it.’ It felt good, though.”
The crowd of 8,412 people, many of whom were drawn there because of Tebow’s presence on the Columbia Fireflies, went crazy. His teammates also gave Tebow a raucous reception when he returned to the dugout.
“It definitely feels good to help the team,” Tebow said. “We’re competing. It’s fun to get back to the dugout and everyone’s pumped up and ready to go. I think we feed off each other’s excitement.”
After hitting a home run in his first at-bat, it was always going to be difficult for Tebow to top that moment the rest of the night. As it turns out, he didn’t come close. The Fireflies went on to win the game 14-7, so his teammates had no trouble following Tebow’s lead in producing runs. However, Tebow finished the game 1 for 5 with three strikeouts, twice going down looking. So, it wasn’t the perfect debut, but with one big moment, Tebow will take it and is hoping to build upon it.
“I know so many people want to sensationalize it, but for me, it’s just one day,” Tebow said. “One opportunity, the first of a lot of games. Tomorrow will be another opportunity to wake up and try to get better. For me, it’s about the process. I know it sounds cliché, and I’ve said it a hundred times, but it is about the process and I still have a long ways to go in the process.”
Tebow is certainly right that he has a long way to go in the process, as the Heisman winner has to prove himself playing for Columbia and then has three more levels of minor league baseball to traverse before making it to the big leagues. Considering the fact that he’ll turn 30 before the end of the season, time is not on his side, and not playing baseball for a decade before deciding to return to the sport won’t help either.
However, Tebow has always been genuine in his desire to play professional baseball, and there’s no denying that he’s a great athlete and an unbelievably hard working and driven person. If his minor league debut is any indication, it’s safe to say that if nothing else, Tebow will continue to be interesting to watch during his foray into professional baseball.