Tebow Time in Binghamton

“Tee–bow! Tee–bow! Tee–bow!”

Tim Tebow, the former NFL quarterback–turned–minor league baseball player, is the designated hitter for the Class AA Binghamton, N.Y., Rumble Ponies, but the crowd treats him more like a rock star.

Every time the hulking slugger emerges from the dugout for the on–deck circle, the fans erupt into cheers and begin chanting his famous name.

Tebow doesn’t disappoint, reaching base all four times and knocking in the winning runs for Binghamton. When he dives back into first base on a routine pickoff attempt, the crowd cheers again like he has hit a walk–off homer.

It’s a long way from the bright lights of the NFL to riding buses in the lower levels of minor league baseball. An outspoken Christian, Tebow says he still finds time to keep up a vigorous devotional life while on the road, pursuing his latest dream.

“Well, hopefully, your spiritual life doesn’t change necessarily whatever you’re doing—whether that’s baseball, football or whatever aspect of life,” Tebow said before the game. “I’m not a baseball player who’s a Christian; I’m a Christian who takes that into every aspect of my life. It’s just who I am.

“So, it’s just staying around great people, staying in the Word, praying a lot, and maintaining that relationship with the Lord every day.”

Faith on display

Tebow had never been to Binghamton prior to being assigned to the Rumble Ponies but said he plans to shine the light of Christ wherever God sends him.

“If there’s a way I can help a community and be someone who can be a little bit of a light, whether that’s visiting a hospital, encouraging kids, or bringing hope and maybe even helping the economy, that would be awesome if there were ways I could help,” Tebow said.

“I’ve met some awesome people so far, and hopefully, I’ll just continue to build great relationships with the people here.”

It’s clear that his humble Christian spirit has already won people over. During pre–game batting practice, Tebow shags fly balls and picks up baseballs like all of his less–famous teammates.

“I have a good relationship with everyone in the clubhouse,” Tebow says.

Tebow’s Christian faith permeates whatever he does. The song that plays as he comes to bat—known as “walkup music”—is Chris Tomlin’s “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies).”

The bat Tebow swings is made by the Christian–based Dove Tail Bat Co. in Maine. The company’s owner has explained that the dove represents the Holy Spirit.

A new challenge

Tebow, who hit a homer on the first pitch he saw at the AA level, had a five–game hit streak early in the season for Binghamton. When he signed with the New York Mets in 2016, he hadn’t played baseball since high school.

“I feel like I’m getting used to it,” Tebow said of being in AA after a season of A ball. “I’m improving every day. It’s also just the way baseball goes. Some days you feel you did really well and it won’t drop and some days you won’t hit as good, but you’ll find a lot of open areas.

I have a lot of admiration for The Salvation Army and what they do. I’ve been blessed to do different things with them and I think they’re a great organization that helps a lot of people.
“So it’s not always just worrying all the time about the statistics, even though that’s hard. You’re really focusing on the process, where you’re at, how you’re seeing pitches, and how you’re adjusting to different pitches.

“This is a really tough league with a lot of really good players. You’re competing against a lot of the best in the world who are very close to being in the bigs.”

Tebow said one of the biggest differences between A ball and AA is that the AA pitchers have better control and walk fewer hitters.

“I think you see special stuff,” Tebow said. “I think probably in this league you just see a little bit more refined arms, where they’re able to locate a little bit better and use their off–speed stuff more when they want to. I think that’s probably the biggest difference.”

Trusting God

Tebow, who hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2012 season, was offered a chance to end his baseball dreams and play for the Orlando team in the new Alliance of American Football League, but he turned the offer down.

“Right now, I’m focused on baseball,” Tebow said. “This is my goal and my pursuit and I’ll stay focused on that.”

Tebow, 30, was born in the Philippines to missionary parents. His mother suffered a life–threatening illness during the pregnancy and was urged to get an abortion. She refused and told God if He gave her a son, she would name him Timothy and make him a preacher.

The child was not only born healthy, but today Tebow is a muscular 6–3, 255 pounds and towers over most of his Binghamton teammates.

Tebow was homeschooled, but went on to win a football scholarship to the University of Florida, where he led the Gators to two national championships and won the coveted Heisman Trophy as the nation’s best player.

Unashamed of his faith, Tebow often talked openly about Christ and in college wore Bible verses on his eye black.

A first–round NFL draft pick, Tebow went on to play for the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets and would sometimes pray on the sidelines. His “Tebowing” prayer stance became a national fad.

Bright future

Tebow, besides pursuing his baseball dream, is a college football analyst with ESPN’s SEC Network.

He also runs the Tim Tebow Foundation, which he began in 2010 with a mission to “bring faith, hope, and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” The foundation sponsors proms for people with special needs called “Night to Shine.”

Tebow, an author, has a new book coming in September called This Is the Day: Reclaim Your Dream. Ignite Your Passion. Live Your Purpose.

His previous book, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Trials, was named “2017 Christian Book of the Year” by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

Tebow, through his publicist for WaterBrook, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, said he wants This Is the Day to awaken readers to think differently, live better, and dream bigger.

“Imagine the morning alarm going off, and instead of groaning or slapping the snooze button, our minds, our hearts, and our souls are awakened to possibilities. Something better. Something more,” says Tebow. “Imagine waking up each day, fueled by a whisper, ‘This is the day.’ Because life isn’t about one day. It’s about this day.”

Tebow, who has spoken at many Salvation Army events, had kind words for the ministry.

“I have a lot of admiration for The Salvation Army and what they do,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to do different things with them and I think they’re a great organization that helps a lot of people.”

by Robert Mitchell