LOUISVILLE — Tim Tebow still isn’t a big fan of the bus rides, but to him it’s all part of pursuing his dream.
The former Heisman Trophy-winner and NFL quarterback-turned-minor-league-baseball player, who also dabbles in broadcasting and philanthropy, was in Louisville the past few days chasing his current passion project — playing Major League Baseball. He and his Syracuse Mets were in town for a three-game International League series against the Louisville Bats.
“The bus rides aren’t that fun, but you deal with it,” Tebow said with a laugh in the visitors dugout prior to Thursday night's series finale at Louisville Slugger Field. “I enjoy the grind. The highs, the lows of it, all of it. I think it’s something I’ve embraced and I think that helps.
“I think you enjoy it. You enjoy the highs and lows, you enjoy the grind of it, you have mental toughness with it. It’s never as good as it seems, it’s never as bad as it seems, that’s something I learned a long time ago in sports. It’s funny. There will be a lot of people that want to make headlines very quickly, but for me it’s not just about what the headlines are, it’s about what the everyday grind is.”
Tebow, who is in his third year of playing professional baseball, has made a few headlines since signing a minor-league deal with the Mets in 2016.
After hitting .226 with a pair of Class A teams in 2017, Tebow had a fairly productive season in 2018 with the Double-A Binghamton (N.Y.) Rumble Ponies of the Eastern League. He hit .273 with six home runs and 36 RBIs.
Tebow’s first season in Triple-A, however, has been a tough one. He entered Thursday night’s game with a .120 batting average, a .157 slugging percentage and .189 on-base percentage. In 83 at-bats he had a total of 10 hits — seven singles, three doubles.
In Game 1 of the Louisville series, Tebow, a left fielder, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the Bats' 3-1 victory Tuesday. In Game 2, Tebow went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored — while also flashing some leather with an extra-base hit robbing, diving catch in left — in the Mets' 6-1 win Wednesday.
“Baseball’s a funny game,” he said. “Sometimes you’ll play really well and it doesn’t reward you, and then sometimes you get rewarded. This series so far is a perfect example. I’ve hit the ball really hard, [but it's been] just to guys every time. I think it’s just about having patience, following a process and really, truly trying to improve every day, not just focusing on what happens in the game and the results of it.”
Tebow, who last played in the NFL with the New York Jets in 2012, readily admits he misses football.
"I’ll always love football," he said. "I love being around it [doing broadcast work] with the SEC Network and SEC Nation, and doing stuff for ESPN, so that’s something I definitely love. Football will always be a big part of my life. It’s something I love to watch, but so is baseball. When I was playing football there was a part of me that missed doing this. That’s why almost every year I talked about playing for Florida’s baseball team. It’s something that I’m glad I get to fulfill both passions."
For Tebow, though, his life isn't just about football or baseball.
“For me my endgame, more than anything else, is what we do at the Tim Tebow Foundation, trying to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need,” he said. “So when all of this is behind me, whether it’s sports, in TV, in broadcasting and everything else, what’s most important is trying to make a difference and fight for people that can’t fight for themselves. I’m so grateful that we’re doing it in so many countries and trying to help so many people, because ultimately that’s what matters most to me.”