One month into his minor league baseball career with the Columbia Fireflies, Tim Tebow has no second-guessing on his decision to play baseball.
The former NFL quarterback has had ups and downs like most minor leaguers, but he doesn’t regret making the decision to give baseball – his first love – a try after not playing it since high school.
“I went this route for a reason,” Tebow said after Tuesday’s 2-1 win where he scored the game-winning run. “I’m doing something I love. And I’m not going to look back with regret. When we are doing that, we are never looking at the present and missing the right now. And you won’t be as good you can in the future.”
Tebow has been a hit for the Fireflies and the entire South Atlantic League. He said the bus rides aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. But the Fireflies have their longest road trips coming next week when they travel to Maryland and New Jersey.
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Attendance is up for Columbia’s home games. South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin brought his family out to see Tebow play Tuesday night.
“I’m a big, big fan of Tim Tebow,” Martin said. “He does all the right things as an athlete and as a person. It’s one of the reasons I’m here. I want my kids to see him play.”
Teams are benefiting every time the Fireflies visit their stadiums. In last weekend’s series at Hickory, the Fireflies played before standing-room only crowds.
Tebow has obliged the fans and usually signs autographs for several minutes before the game, and sometimes after. For the most part, Tebow said reaction across the board has been positive, although he has heard some negative remarks.
“Any time you get support it feels good and people see you, watch you play or shake your hand,” Tebow said. “You can’t let it affect you, good or bad. You just have to stay locked in and stay focused on the task at hand.”
At the plate, Tebow said he thinks his swing has more rhythm to it than when he started in the gall and he is pleased with his progress. He is hitting .231 after Tuesday’s 0-for-2 effort, when he drew two walks and showed patience. He has only one multiple strikeout game in his last 10 games after three in his first six.
Tebow went 9-for-20 on the last homestand, but followed that with two hits in the weekend series at Hickory.
“I feel I’m making progress. I’m more comfortable and seeing the pitches better. The rhythm is better. I feel like I have been getting better,” Tebow said. “You’ve got to have the work ethic, whether you are 0-for-4 or 3-for-4. You’ve just got to try and stay level-handed, and that is something I have tried to bring to the team.”
Manager Jose Leger said Tebow’s presence has been a good thing for the club and he hasn’t been a distraction.
“He is one of 25 players we have and he acts like it,” Leger said. “He leads by example. He is here early and the guys feed off of it. He is a humble guy and everything you want to ask for in a player he has it.”