I arrived 90 minutes before first pitch with media credential in hand. I wasn't alone. Reporters and camera men were camped out in front of the Fireflies dugout waiting for Tebow to appear from the clubhouse. The throng was noticeable especially to the Augusta GreenJackets who were in town for the opener.
GreenJackets' shortstop Brandon Van Horn noticed the reporters and stood side by side with them for a second looking intently towards the Fireflies clubhouse and then sarcastically asked, "What are we all hoping to see?"
Tim Tebow gave everyone what they were hoping to see when he came to the plate for the first time in his professional baseball career. Facing lefty Domenic Mazza, Tebow worked the count to 2-1 and then blasted the pitch to left field for a two run homer. It was a surreal moment. News of his homer soon spread all over the country. Columbia, SC was the center of the sports universe.
Here is his complete first at bat:
Tebow wasn't the only story. This Columbia Fireflies team should be entertaining this year. Gene Cone who played his high school baseball and college baseball in Columbia, SC batted lead off and walked four times scoring two runs.
Michael Paez from Coastal Carolina's national championship team started at shortstop and hit a towering two run homer to left. Paez would go 2-4 on the night.
Desmond Lindsey, who turned down the chance to play for the North Carolina Tarheels, is the Mets #4 prospect which makes him the highest rated prospect. He started in centerfield and went 0-3 with an RBI.
Sandro Fabian was the highest rated prospect on the GreenJackets' roster. Fabian is listed as the 19th best prospect in the Giants organization.
He started the opener in right field while batting second. Fabian would go 2-5 on the night with a double and three RBI.
The story of course was Tim Tebow and his homerun in his first plate appearance of this strange new adventure. Domenic Mazza was the the guy to give up the most famous minor league homerun since Crash Davis went deep for the all time minor league record. Yes, I know that wasn't real but this Tebow homer didn't feel real either.
Mazza was drafted in the 22nd round in the 2015 draft by the San Francisco Giants. Why is that significant? He was pick #666 in that draft. Who else would Tebow homer off of? Kevin Costner homering for the Asheville Tourists sounds much more realistic.
Tebow would get four more trips to the plate. He would ground out to shortstop in his second at bat, strike out looking his next two times up and strike out swinging his last time up.
Tebow would finish the night 1-5 with a a homer and two runs batted in. His team, the Columbia Fireflies, would win the game by a very fitting football-like score of 14-7. Are you serious?
Below is Tim Tebow's full post-game press conference where he talks about his homer, the strike zone and his role as leader on a team made up of guys who were barely ten years old when he won the Heisman Trophy a decade ago.