Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Call it a swing and a myth

Tim Tebow stepped to the plate for his first at-bat as a professional baseball player Wednesday. He took a swing at the first pitch he faced.

Of course, he hit a home run.

Tebow is a polarizing figure in the sports world. As a Heisman Trophy winner while at the University of Florida and, briefly, as an NFL quarterback, he attracted both adulation and scorn for his overt Christian faith and habit of "Tebowing," or bowing in prayer after successes.

On the field, some saw a player with anemic passing statistics, while others saw a pro who always seemed to find a way to win.

He faced considerable skepticism when, with his football days seemingly over, he announced plans to try for a baseball career at age 29. He had not played the game since high school.

Still, scouts from 28 teams came to an open workout, and the New York Mets saw enough to sign Tebow to a minor-league contract and send him to the Florida Instructional League.

Game No. 1 came Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals' team in front of about 250 fans in Port St. Lucie. Tebow batted second and played leftfield. His first at-bat ended in seconds with the homer to left-center.

The pitcher was John Kilichowski, drafted in the 11th round last spring. He posted a 2.70 ERA in Class A ball with the Peoria Chiefs and the State College Spikes this past season, giving up four home runs in 11 games.

Tebow's teammates rushed out to greet him at home plate after the opposite-field bash.

At that point, Tebow's career stats looked like this: batting average 1.000, on-base average 1.000, slugging average 4.000. And let's make up a stat: Ratio of pitches seen to home runs delivered: 1:1.

Barry Bonds? Babe Ruth? Tebow was surpassing them all, and making the skeptics look pretty foolish.

In his second at-bat, Tebow grounded into a double play, dropping his batting average to a merely superhuman .500.

Call it a swing and a myth 09/28/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 8:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft


    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Illinois is recruiting a 10-year-old. Where will Lovie Smith be by the time the kid can sign?


    Today in ridiculous recruiting news, Lovie Smith's Illinois football team offered a scholarship to a 10-year-old.

  3. Rays series preview: Who are the Orioles?


    After an off day Thursday, the Rays remain at Tropicana Field for a three-game series against the AL East rival Orioles. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

    Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman, left, has posted the highest ERA of his career this season, while catcher Welington Castillo, center, has slumped recently.
  4. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  5. Morning after off day: Rays ready for slumping O's


    The Rays will attempt tonight to do what so far has been impossible this season: climb four games above .500.

    The Rays expect Evan Longoria to be back in the lineup for tonight's game.