Even a brief rain delay didn’t dampen spirits or keep fans from filling the stands for the chance to see the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback play baseball. Attire last night was a mixture of Tebow football jerseys and Tebow baseball shirts as the sports icon drew long autograph lines amid a larger-than-normal crowd for a weekday game.
Right now, Tebow is working his way through the New York Mets minor league system, currently manning left field for the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, which played the first of three games against the Harrisburg Senators.
Tebow is more than an athlete, as many fans treat him as a celebrity, some of whom carted along copies of his inspirational book, “This Is The Day,” as they packed the stadium. He spent some pre-game time with members of the press, who peppered him with questions ranging from baseball to philanthropy to leadership.
In interviews, Tebow often stresses his faith, which is also what attracts many of his fans. Yesterday, he cited his relationship with God and support from his family, saying all the criticism and rumors fall by the wayside when he focuses on his purpose.
He also talked about leadership.
“You’re not a leader by your title,” he said. “True leadership only comes when people follow you. I don’t believe people follow titles. People follow passion and courage.”
He went on to say that leadership is about working and earning other’s respect, which is what he is trying to do as he makes his way up the ranks of minor league baseball.
Tebow realizes that he’s received some criticism by transitioning from football to baseball. But, regardless of what others think, he said he considers himself an athlete foremost and that he feels good about the progress he is making.
It’s been said that one of the hardest things in all of professional sports is hitting a pitched ball thrown in excess of 90 miles per hour. To that end, Tebow said he put in a lot of off-season work into hitting, in hopes that he can improve his batting average, which stands at .242 so far this season.
So what about last night? Tebow batted eighth in the lineup, getting a roar from the stands with each bat. In the end, he went 1-for-4 with an RBI. It wasn’t quite enough to put his team into the win column. The Senators bested the Rumble Ponies 6-5 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning before a large crowd of 6,284, many of whom stayed for the end of the exciting game.
Fans have two more opportunities to get a glimpse of the former professional football player turned professional baseball player with a 6:30 p.m. game on Wednesday and noon on Thursday.