Tebow takes first professional swing at baseball
Tebow: 'I guess I have a little chip'
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The next act in Tim Tebow's professional sports career officially began Monday morning. The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback is in Port St. Lucie at the New York Mets' minor league complex as part of the team's instructional league for the next few weeks.
Tebow, 29, is the oldest player there by four years, but he said he doesn't mind that, as he tries to work his way up the minor league system.
Tebow is one of 58 players on the team's instructional league roster. Two of the players on the roster won't even turn 18 until next year.
Tebow said he felt like a kid again when he got his uniform and took the field for the first time.
Tebow was given jersey No. 15, the same number he wore as a quarterback as a national championship-winning phenomenon in college at Florida and as a much-maligned one in the NFL with Denver and the New York Jets. The Mets' orange-and-blue color scheme is also familiar for Tebow, whose first day was met with much fanfare.
A couple hundred fans came out to watch Tebow on the baseball field for the first time.
“You want every one of those guys in the locker room and the coaches to know that I'm just going out there and trying to perform, get better and learn the system just like they are,” Tebow said.
He stepped out of the Mets' minor league clubhouse at 9:47 a.m., milled about with other players for 10 minutes and then took part in some stretching exercises.
Tebow's first drill was a base-running lesson, as a news helicopter circled overhead and dozens of reporters watched from just a few feet away off the first-base line. He had the ballplayer look down; as he ran, a batting glove flopped about in his left rear pocket.
Despite all the hype around his new career, Tebow said he tried to block out the dozens of media members from across the country that were watching. Tebow said he is just focusing on living his dream.
“I guess I have a little chip. You want to prove people right, but it's not really the naysayers. I want to prove the coaches right, the Mets organization and my teammates,” Tebow said. “I want to play with my teammates and try to be the best baseball player I can.”
Tebow's last time playing true organized baseball was in his junior year of high school, when he batted nearly .500 for Nease High in Ponte Vedra Beach. Hoping now to become a professional outfielder, Tebow worked out for scouts in Los Angeles last month and not long afterward the Mets signed him to a deal that included a $100,000 bonus.
“Hopefully, if you make the right steps in preparation and you're blessed with the right opportunities and the right talent, then one day that can meet someday and hopefully that would be in the big leagues,” Tebow said. “That's the goal.”
Tebow last appeared in an NFL regular-season game during the 2012 season. He was in camp with the New England Patriots in 2013 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, and started workouts with the thought of seriously trying baseball a few months ago.
Tebow was asked Monday what he would do if an NFL team came calling. He put an end to any speculation, saying he's a part of the Mets family.
The instructional league continues for the next three weeks. Tebow will be leaving each weekend for his duties as a college football analyst with the SEC Network. He said that is something he wants to continue doing because he believes in keeping his word.
Copyright 2016 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.