Tim Tebow homers in first professional at-bat
Tim Tebow’s first professional baseball game, of sorts, yielded an immediate highlight as the telegenic Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion quarterback hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in a game against a team of St. Louis Cardinals farmhands.
Tebow, 29, is likely the oldest player populating instructional league games in Florida, and the 255-pound outfielder did not waste time showing he’d like to advance with some dispatch through the New York Mets system, hammering a pitch just to the left of dead center field in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
The home run came on the first pitch off a fellow former Southeastern Conference athlete - John Kilichowski, 22, who was selected in the 11th round of June's draft out of Vanderbilt. Kilichowski posted a 3.38 ERA in 11 games - nine starts - at rookie level State College (Pa.) and low-A Peoria (Ill.).
“It was fun. I just wanted to have the approach that I was going to be aggressive,” Tebow said.
“That’s something that we’ve been talking about here every day and practicing it.”
Kilichowski was 12 years old when Tebow helped the University of Florida to the first of two national championships in 2006.
“I liked a lot of my at-bats today,” Tebow said. “I hit the ball really hard four out of the six times. … Four of the at-bats I felt really, really good about. Didn’t swing at any breaking balls, didn’t feel like I got fooled seeing it out of the (pitcher's) hand.”
Tebow received a $100,000 bonus to sign with the Mets, an arrangement that this fall enables him to keep his commitments as an analyst for the ESPN-owned SEC Network. He had not played organized baseball since his junior year of high school in 2005, in Florida.
“It feels good to hit a home run,” Tebow said. “First game you’re competing you wanna win. You’re with all your teammates.
"Honestly, the reception was fun, too.”
Contributing: Luis Torres of The Treasure Coast Palm, part of the USA TODAY Network