Mets' Tebow homers in first Minors at-bat

'07 Heisman Trophy winner hits opposite-field shot for Fireflies

Tim Tebow homers in the first at-bat of his Minor League career on Thursday in Columbia. (Sean Rayford/AP)

By Tyler Maun / | April 7, 2017 12:51 AM

It seemed like destiny. It felt like the next improbable step in an almost mythical career that has been tough to define in two sports.

For Tim Tebow, one swing on Thursday night was just a brief culmination of his pregame work on the first day of a 140-game season.

The Mets farmhand belted a two-run homer in his first official at-bat in professional baseball to give Class A Columbia an early lead on the way to a 14-7 win over Augusta, a fitting final for the former football star.

Video: Tebow impresses in his Minor League debut

"So much about sports is handling moments and handling pressure," Tebow said in his postgame news conference at Spirit Communications Park. "I think as an athlete, that's so much about really being able to calm yourself, have focus, go back to what you've been training on, don't make the moment too big, go back and simplify it and have your plan of attack and go for it."

The plan Tebow and his staff devised for Thursday produced immediate results.

"I think me and [hitting coach Joel] Fuentes spent probably over an hour literally just working on fastballs away, going oppo in the cage before we even went to [batting practice]," Tebow said.

Augusta starter Domenic Mazza obliged that strategy in the bottom of the second inning. On a 2-1 count with Columbia's Blake Tiberi aboard, Mazza fired a fastball toward the outer half of the plate, and the left-handed-hitting former quarterback drove it out over the left-center field wall.

"It just goes back to your approach, your mindset, your philosophy and your game plan, and when you get those opportunities, you try to make the most of it," Tebow said. "It definitely felt good because that's something we worked on so much today."

Box score

Initially, the former Heisman Trophy winner didn't know if the ball had left the yard.

"I thought I hit it well," he said, but the ball bounced back onto the field, where GreenJackets center fielder Anthony Marks played it in to the infield. "I thought I had a double and the [umpire] goes, 'Keep going.' I was like, 'All right, I'll take it.'"

The shot gave the Fireflies an early boost. Columbia scored five more runs in the third on the way to an impressive season-opening offensive night.

"It's funny. You get back in the dugout and everyone's pumped up and ready to go," he said. "I think we feed off each other's excitement and already, just after a week of being together, I think we've got a team that cares about each other and has fun playing together."

Fireflies manager Jose Leger agreed. His team went 7-for-16 with runners in scoring position and piled up 13 hits, six for extra-base hits, including homers by No. 16 Mets prospect Luis Carpio and Michael Paez.

Watch all of Tebow's home games on MiLB.TV

"Special things happen to special people, and I think that was a special moment right there," Leger said. "Putting the team on the board right there, I think he set the tone, no doubt about it."

Tebow's debut didn't come without its valleys after that second inning peak. The 29-year-old didn't hit another ball out of the infield, striking out three times. But those moments play into the Florida native's motivation to continue chasing his baseball goals.

"I know so many people want to sensationalize it, but for me, it's just one day," he said. "It's just one opportunity, the first of a lot of games. Tomorrow will be another opportunity to wake up, get to work and try to get better. For me, it's about the process. I know it sounds cliché and I've said it a hundred times, but it is about the process, and I still have a long way to go in that process."

Tebow's Minor League debut drew a crowd of 8,412 to Spirit Communications Park, which has a listed seating capacity of 7,501.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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