Tim Tebow Practices for First Time as a Pro Baseball Player; Mets Already Selling Jerseys

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Tim Tebow tied his cleats for his first workout as a professional baseball player on Monday by joining 57 other Mets rookies at Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he will play in the instructional league.

On his first day, Tebow took batting practice and caught fly balls in the outfield. Coaches instructed him and other players in base running.

Tebow, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2o07 and played quarterback for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, hasn’t played baseball since 2005. That year as a junior in high school he won all-state honors, hit four homers and batted .494.

The college football icon signed a contract with the Mets in August after attending a baseball tryout where several teams took an interest in him.

The scouting reports on Tebow proved modest at best. Given his old job as NFL quarterback one would suspect a strong arm performance might follow at the baseball combine. Yet, the former Florida Gator, who brought two national championships home to the Sunshine State, got weak ratings in that department.

On top of that, scouts claimed Tebow seemed awkward in the field. However, he did demonstrate good power behind the plate.

Tebow, 29, will be just another ball player hanging out with a bunch of guys a decade younger than him—he’s the only one with a birthdate in the 1980s—while he tries to make it to the show. But unlike other players he’s the only one who will get Friday and Saturday’s off so he can fulfill his broadcasting duties with the SEC Network.

Another item that sets the popular sports figure apart from his teammates is the Mets are already selling Tim Tebow sports merchandise, including the number 15 Mets jersey with his name emblazoned on the back.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson waxed a bit defensive when denying that Tebow’s generous signing bonus had anything to do with the lucrative revenue potential of selling Tebow merchandise. “I have to tell you, the notion that we’re going to spend $100,000 on a bonus for a player so we can sell a couple hundred dollars’ worth of t-shirts in Kingsport [Tennessee, where the Mets have a minor league team], those economics don’t work,” the executive said at the time. “This was not about making money.”

The instructional league offers only a five-game schedule and it is unlikely Tebow will get a great opportunity to show-off his skills. Fans will probably have to wait to the winter leagues and the spring before getting a chance to really see what he can do. And for sure he has lots of fans:

Tebow told Anthony Rieber of Newsday last week that he is raring to go and is “really excited” about his new career. “I’ve loved the game of baseball. Hitting a baseball is one of my favorite things to do in sports. I’m excited about the journey, the challenge, the difficulties, all of it. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and it’s something that’s definitely exciting for me.”