Here’s everything we know about Tim Tebow the baseball player
On Tuesday, America woke up to news that seemed so absurd, it couldn’t possibly be true: Tim Tebow had given up his NFL dreams, and would now be pursuing a career in baseball.
Again, it sounded crazy, but as we turned out, it was 100 percent accurate. Tebow’s agent is already on the record saying that the move is not a gimmick, and just hours after the news broke, Tebow had already received his first contract offer. These are crazy times we live in, but that the news is all but official, it raises an interesting question:
What do we actually know about Tim Tebow, the baseball player?
After doing some research this morning, here’s the best of what we could come up with.
For starters, there are the obvious facts: Along with football, Tebow played baseball at Nease High School in Jacksonville, Florida. In his junior year he hit .494 with four home runs and had 30 RBI, on his way to earning All-County and All-State honors. He also helped Nease reach the final four of the Florida state tournament that year, after winning just four games the year before. It was a major turnaround under first year coach Greg ‘Boo’ Mullins.
And that’s where we begin, with Mullins. Mullins got a good look at Tebow first-hand for that one full season, and bestowed him with the ultimate praise. He could have been a big leaguer, according to an interview he had with The Sporting News in 2013.
“Everybody should know this: He wasn’t just a great football player, he was a great baseball player, too,” Mullins says. “I believe he could have played in the big leagues.”
And it’s not like Mullins is just talking out of his you-know-what; he himself after played in the majors. He played four years of pro ball, and actually pitched two games for the Brewers during that 1998 season.
Having seen baseball’s best up close and personal, he believed Tebow could hang with them.
“He was a six-tool player. He had arm strength, he could run, he could hit, he could hit for power, he could field, but his character made him that six-tool guy.”
Even more impressive was that the same leadership abilities Tebow showed on the gridiron at Florida and in his brief time in the NFL, were on display at Nease as well. Here’s what Mullins told the Sporting News.
“He more or less did for me on the baseball field what he did for Coach (Craig) Howard on the football field,” Mullins said. “He was a power-hitting left-hander who had a plus arm and plus speed. He was the leader of the team with his passion, his fire and his energy. He loved to play baseball, too. He just had a bigger fire for football.”
Tebow didn’t play his senior year — instead choosing to enroll early at Florida to focus on spring football practice — but Mullins believes if he had focused on baseball, he would have been drafted high. During the football recruiting process Tebow actually attended a combine for elite high school baseball players, and according to the Sporting News interview, Mullins believed he would have been drafted somewhere between the 7th to 12th round, had he entered the draft out of high school. However Mullins also believed if he had continued to play both sports, he could have gone as high as the second round after a few years in Gainesville.
Still, that didn’t stop Major League teams from calling Nease, and asking about Tebow’s pro prospects.
“I had pro scouts calling, ‘Boo, is he going to play football or if we draft him do you think he’ll sign?’
That was certainly the case for the Los Angeles Angels, who actually planned to draft him coming out of high school. A former Angels’ scout named Tom Kotchman (who later moved over to the Red Sox) said as much, during an interview in 2013 with WEEI.
“We wanted to draft him,” Kotchman remembered. “But he never sent back his information card. Either it never got to him, or ‘It’s Tim Tebow. Who knows if it got to him, and if it did we just never got it back. Otherwise were were going to take him.’”
Unbelievable! You actually have a scout, on the record, saying the team was going to draft Tebow. And all it took was for him to send back his note card? Again, incredible stuff, and incredible how one little thing — sending in a notecard — could have potentially changed sports history. At the same time, it probably plays into what Mullins said earlier: Tebow’s heart was set on football. Therefore, it really didn’t matter what team (teams) wanted to draft him. He was going to focus on football.
In terms of what baseball scouts saw, well, it was similar to what Mullins saw, day in and day out. A physical freak, who was simply cut from a different cloth than the average high school baseball player in Florida in the mid-2000’s. According to Mullins, Tebow once hit a tape-measure home run in pre-game batting practice that measured 489 feet, and it was that size and power which overwhelmed scouts.
“He stood out. Right when you walked up to the field, he passed the body test,” Red Sox Florida scout Stephen Hargett, who worked with Kotchman told WEEI. “He was bigger and stronger than everybody. I think of how big he is, with an average junior or senior in high school being 5-foor-10, 160 pounds. This guy is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. It was just easy for him. You thought, if this guy dedicated everything to baseball like he did to football how good could he be?”
So will Tebow succeed in baseball? It seems unlikely.
But those who know him best seem to think that the possibility is there.