They watched and rooted him on as he made history on the college gridiron. They watched and rooted him on as he made his mark in the NFL. They watch and root him on as he works in the community to better the lives of those around him.
And now they get to see what happens as he tries to make it in their sport, baseball.
On Tuesday in Los Angeles, former Heisman Trophy winner, two-time national-champion Florida Gators and former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow will hold a showcase for Major League teams as he attempts to land a contract to begin a new career in professional baseball.
As usual with Tebow, who has been working as a broadcaster on ESPN, there are many supporters and probably just as many doubters. Ever since his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports, announced Tebow’s intent to try to play pro baseball, the social media universe and skeptics have swarmed on this story. Many called it a publicity stunt.
But a handful of current and former Major Leaguers who have observed Tebow closely and from afar over the years seem to agree on three main points: that Tebow’s sincerity shouldn’t be questioned, that he faces a long, tough road to the Major Leagues, and that even despite the odds, an athlete of his caliber with a work ethic as solid as his deserves to at least be taken seriously.
“He works his tail off, and you know the intangibles are there,” Aardsma said. “For me, it’s about baseball IQ. Where does he stand with the baseball part of it? The athleticism, the work ethic, the clubhouse demeanor, that all plays. And you see the passion. Honestly, he’s losing money by doing this, so you know it’s not a publicity stunt. If he wanted that, I mean, he’s already on TV. What more do you need?”
Aardsma added that Tebow is in incredible shape and that his power is “no joke” and neither is this latest pursuit.
“I don’t think it’s a crazy notion, because I know the athleticism that it takes to play baseball and I know he’s got that athleticism,” Aardsma said. “Plus I love the idea that somebody’s still passionate about this game, no matter who you are. We need to be passionate about this game.”
Former Florida Gators and current Cubs catcher David Ross has seen a lot in his 14 years in the Majors. He also admires Tebow’s passion and said he would never criticize someone for giving a heartfelt effort.
Last season, Cole went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA in 208 innings over 32 starts, finishing fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting. He avoided the disabled list entirely and credited his routine for his consistent success on the mound.