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.
Tebow is a polarizing figure in the sports world. As a Heisman Trophy winner while at the University of Florida and, briefly, as an N. F.L. 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.
Of course, he hit a home run.
Still, scouts from 28 teams came to an open workout, and the 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 Cardinals’ team in front of about 250 fans in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Tebow batted second and played left field. His first at-bat ended in seconds with the homer to left-center.
The pitcher was John Kilichowski, drafted out of Vanderbilt by the Cardinals in the 11th round last spring. He posted a 2.70 E. R.A. 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 great 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? Tim 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.