Former football star Tebow to face Shorebirds

Former professional football player Tim Tebow is expected to be in town this week, playing Minor League Baseball against the Delmarva Shorebirds.

The 29-year-old Tebow, born in the Philippines to missionary parents and know for “Tebowing,” or kneeling and praying in uniform, plays for the Columbia Fireflies. His team is scheduled to face the Shorebirds three times, last night on Wednesday, tonight on Thursday and Friday. All games are set for 7:05 p.m. at Perdue Stadium.

“He’s a regular player on the Fireflies team. He played baseball in his previous life and is coming here as a minor league player,” said Chris Bitters, who manages the Shorebirds.

Although playing baseball after a football career is rather unusual, Bitters said Tebow showed talent during his high school years and the New York Mets affiliate “gave him the opportunity.”

“Starting last year, he went to spring training. He’s been playing since the season started. He’s in the Class A level, the same as us. He is, ultimately, trying to be a minor league baseball player,” Bitters said.

There were no plans for other public appearances or interviews with the media. Kevin Fitzgerald, who handles media relations for the Fireflies, told the Salisbury Independent Tebow won’t be granting individual interviews, although a press conference could be planned.

In December 2013, Tebow  worked for ESPN as a college football analyst and, last August, announced interested in professional baseball, even though he hadn’t played since he was a junior in high school.

Offers came from two minor independent professional teams, the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He was also offered a contract by a team in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League.

In September, Tebow signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets. In April, he hit a home run in his first at-bat for the Fireflies against the Augusta GreenJackets, according to online reports.

In the NFL, Tebow played three seasons and won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 when he played college football for the University of Florida. He was the first college sophomore to win the prestigious award.

He played for the Denver Broncos for two seasons beginning in 2010 and for the New York Jets in 2012. He was in pre-season games with the New England Patriots in 2013 and Philadelphia Eagles in 2015.

With the Broncos, he became the team’s full-time starting quarterback in the sixth game of the 2011 season. The Broncos, according to online reports, were 1-4 before Tebow became the starter, “but began winning with him on the field, often coming from behind late in the fourth quarter, until they won their first AFC West title and first playoff game since 2005, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime,” according to the reports.

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