BY MICHAEL HAMMOND | Minor League Knocks
Aug. 16, 2017 | Tim Tebow 0-4, 2 K | Florida State League (A+)
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Tim Tebow fever has spread across Florida for the first time since he was winning games for the Florida Gators on the football field.
After Tebow’s NFL career came to an end and he joined the broadcast booth, the New York Mets decided to give the former quarterback a shot at baseball after Tebow invited scouts to a tryout event.
The quarterback turned outfielder began 2017 with the Columbia Fireflies of the South Atlantic League (A) where he made an immediate impact on the team’s and league’s attendance numbers. While he was only in Columbia through June 28, he helped the team set its full-season attendance record in just 53 home games according to a Josh Norris article on Baseball America. The article also explains that the former Heisman Trophy winner brought attendance up nearly 2,600 fans per game on the road.
Since being called up to the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League (A+) he’s done the same thing and it was very apparent in Clearwater, Florida on Wednesday night.
In the crowd were fans decked out in the Gators gear and a few Denver Broncos Tebow jerseys and it was hard to tell who was a fan of either team. The host Clearwater Threshers were even selling “Tebow Series” t-shirts for fans to mark the event.
It was a fairly good game to watch with the Threshers taking a 6-4 victory and 16 hits on the scoreboard. However, the crowd was at its loudest whenever Tebow came to the plate and it wasn’t even close with any other event despite his 0-for-4 performance.
In his first at-bat, Tebow struck out swinging for the first out in the second with runners on first and second.
In the fourth, Tebow again struck out, this time looking, and had a few words with home plate umpire, Derek Thomas. Thomas rang him up on curveball that looked like a strike from where I was sitting.
Much to the crowd’s dismay, Tebow’s at-bat was delayed by a pitching change that proved effective. The Mets had scored three in the fifth and cut the lead to 5-4 before a Tebow groundout to short ended the rally.
Tebow led off the eighth with another groundout, this time to second, and his night was over as he didn’t play the field at DH. Almost immediately after he was called out, a large portion of the crowd left the game making it clear just what they came to see on Wednesday.
Playing baseball for the first time since his junior year of high school, Tebow his hitting .223/.308/.351 with eight homers and 50 RBI between Columbia and St. Lucie. While Tebow is nowhere near elite prospect level and may never play for the New York in the big leagues, Florida fans will continue to flock to his baseball games in droves.
Who knows? If Tebow eventually makes it to New York maybe there will be Mets fans in Florida than Marlins fans (probably not).