LAKELAND, FL – Former Heisman Trophy winner and two-time BCS National Champion Tim Tebow will start his professional baseball career with the Columbia Fireflies, Mets Manager Terry Collins announced. Tebow will continue with the Mets in spring training at the team’s complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, before breaking camp the first week of April and heading to the Palmetto State’s capital.
“No one works harder than Tim did this Spring,” said New York Mets manager Terry Collins. “He was a pleasure to have around. What he wants is to improve. I’m sure he’ll be a great influence on the kids in Columbia and the fans will enjoy watching him play.”
“Tim Tebow will bring major excitement and national attention to the Fireflies and city of Columbia,” said Fireflies President John Katz. “Baseball fans, sports fans and Tim Tebow fans will likely come from around the southeast to see him play. We expect this to add to the energy at Spirit Communications Park and around downtown Columbia, especially during our opening weekend (April 6-9).”
Tebow signed with the Mets on September 8 and participated in three Florida Instructional League games, hitting a home run in his first at-bat. The 29-year-old finished 4-for-14 (.286) at the plate in those three games with two walks. Later in the fall, he played in 19 contests in the Arizona Fall League. The AFL annually features some of the best prospects in Minor League Baseball, primarily consisting of Double-A and Triple-A level players. Tebow finished with a .194 batting average (12-for-62) with two RBIs and eight walks. It was the first time the former NFL quarterback played organized baseball since his junior year of high school (Allen D. Nease High – Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida) in 2005.
Barring anything unforeseen, Tebow will wear his number 15 jersey when he steps on the field for the Fireflies.
“Tebow’s story is so compelling – from the BCS National Championships and the NFL playoffs to reinventing himself as a professional baseball player,” said Katz. “His humility, faith and unwavering commitment to better himself will bring a new dynamic to our clubhouse. Having a player that has achieved his level of success on two big stages will ultimately pay huge dividends for our players as they pursue their dreams of playing for the New York Mets.”
Reports from the Columbia Fireflies contributed to this article.