PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — The Columbia Fireflies are about to become a lot more famous.
Tim Tebow will begin this season playing for the Mets’ low Class-A affiliate in South Carolina, big-league manager Terry Collins announced Monday. The former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback will remain at the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie through the first week of April.
“No one works harder than Tim did this Spring,” Collins told Newsday. “He was a pleasure to have around. What he wants is to improve. I’m sure he’ll be a great influence on the kids in Columbia and the fans will enjoy watching him play.”
Added Fireflies president John Katz: “Tim Tebow will bring major excitement and national attention to the Fireflies and city of Columbia. Baseball fans, sports fans and Tim Tebow fans will likely come from around the southeast to see him play. We expect this to add to the energy at Spirit Communications Park and around downtown Columbia, especially during our opening weekend (April 6-9).”
Following a three-year NFL career that saw him play for the Denver Broncos and Jets, Tebow decided last year to try his hand at baseball, a sport he excelled at in high school. His power and athleticism impressed scouts and eventually led to him signing with the Mets in September.
The quarterback-turned-outfielder participated in the Mets’ instructional league in the fall, homering on the first pitch he saw in a game. He then played in the Arizona Fall League, where he struggled, hitting .194 with 20 strikeouts in 62 at-bats.
While Tebow, 29, has spent the spring participating in the Mets’ minor-league camp, he has been called on to play in six major-league spring games. In those games, he is batting .235 (4-for-17) but has yet to score or drive in a run.
The Fireflies’ biggest claim to fame up until now has been their glow-in-the-dark uniforms.