Same number, new sport: Tebow works out in instructional league
PORT ST. LUCIE, FLA. — Tim Tebow arrived at the New York Mets’ minor league clubhouse Monday morning, finding an orangeand-blue jersey with No. 15 on the back in his locker.
He was asked if that worked.
“Heck yeah,” Tebow replied.
It’s the same color scheme he wore as a national champion and Heisman Trophy winner at Florida, and the same number he wore with the Gators and throughout his less-than-storied years as an NFL quarterback. And now he’s wearing it again as he tries to find a place in baseball, going through his first workout with the Mets’ instructional league squad on Monday.
He showed some power, hitting three balls in batting practice off the chain-link fence in right-center — better than just about everyone else did. He showed some rust, popping up a halfdozen pitches in that same BP session. And he showed a need for work, after one of his throws sailed well over someone’s head and nearly onto an adjacent field during a simple game of catch.
“It was a lot of fun,” Tebow said. “It was great. It was great to be on a team. It was great to just go through a warmup and go through drills, just have fun, take BP, get to know all the guys, try to remember as many names as possible.”
Predictably, it was also a circus atmosphere.
Hundreds of fans — many wearing Tebow jerseys, some even wearing now-onsale Mets shirts with Tebow’s name — showed up; a worker at the Mets’ complex said instructional league workouts last year drew maybe a couple of dozen people, tops. Anewshelicopter circled over the field where Tebow worked for more than an hour. He got a huge cheer from fans for executing his first official drill, one where he learned how to take a lead off first base.
“Never been here before,” said Sarah Dale, a waitress who says she’ll be a Mets fan. “I’m here for Tim Tebow. He’s a people person. Everyone loves him.”
Less than a month ago, Tebow was in his native Philippines, working with special-needs and ailing children — one of his longtime passions. He’s now one of 58 players on the Mets’ instructional league roster, and at 29 he’s also four years older than any other invitee. Two of the players on the roster won’t even turn 18 until next year.