Tim Tebow has been aiming high his entire life. But this might be his most ambitious goal yet.
The 29-year-old will take the field Aug. 30 not as a quarterback but as a baseball player, holding a workout for reportedly more than 20 Major League Baseball teams — including the Boston Red Sox — in an attempt to kick-start a career on the diamond.
It’s a dramatic career turn for a former Heisman Trophy winner, who was one of the best players in college football history but flamed out after fewer than five seasons in the NFL. And the obvious question remains: Can he do any better on the baseball field?
Tebow’s baseball résumé is brief: He played just two seasons of high school ball from 2004 to 2005 at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., forgoing a third year as a senior to enroll early at the University of Florida. He hasn’t played organized baseball since. But, as usually is the case with Tebow, he left a massive impression during those two years.
Kevin Fagan, Tebow’s baseball coach at Nease during his sophomore season, recalls one of his first interactions with the future college football star.
“He walked in at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds as a sophomore, and I saw him bench 350 pounds,” Fagan told NESN.com in a recent phone interview. “I said, ‘Can you even drive yet, kid?’ ”
Tebow primarily played first base and right field as a Nease sophomore. Tebow was a “solid” player, Fagan says, hitting about .300 that season, but certainly wasn’t the star of the team.
Tebow already had one thing going for him, though: Raw, incredible power. Take the time Nease played a game at Florida Air Academy, of which future MLB star Prince Fielder was a recent graduate.
“(Tebow) hits a baseball that bounces off a dormitory beyond left field,” Fagan recalls. “Their coach says, ‘I’ve never seen Prince Fielder do that.’ He hits another one over an equipment shed in right field. And the guy is like, ‘Holy crap, that’s the farthest I’ve seen anything hit in my life.’ ”
Or the time a Colorado Rockies scout came to watch Nease’s star shortstop and got the Tebow Experience instead.
“Tebow hits one from Nease’s home plate to beyond second base on the far softball field (about 400 feet),” Fagan says. “And (the scout) says to me, ‘Who is that guy?’ ”
Tebow translated that power into success in a breakout junior season, batting .494 with four homers and 30 RBI while earning All-State honors.
That Tebow, whom Fagan described as “a 15-year-old boy in a 25-year-old man’s body,” has the raw athleticism and talent of a big leaguer shouldn’t be a surprise at this point. That said, hitting and fielding at a level consistent enough to rise through the minor league ranks and reach the pros is a different story.
Fagan knows Tebow faces an uphill battle, but he also knows his former player has a huge competitive streak and an almost manical work ethic.
“He wants to be competing at the top,” Fagan said. “If he was a bowler, he’d want to compete in the (Professional Bowling Assocation). If he played volleyball, he’d want to compete in the Olympics for a gold medal. He’s not competing at the low end. That’s just not his style.”
Is Tebow’s MLB dream a long shot? Maybe. But Fagan won’t be the one to count him out.
“I saw him make a liar out of a lot of people in high school,” Fagan said. “I saw him make a liar about a lot of people in college. … I would take a chance on him.”
Thumbnail photo via Derik Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images