Tim Tebow’s first season is over, but he’s not done.
After an inaugural season that included a promotion to High-A ball, Tebow says he’s going to continue his baseball dream.
Despite an up-and-down performance, Tim Tebow has made a huge impact that can’t go ignored.
Tebow’s clubs saw a major uptick in attendance, and not just as a weekend novelty. He made a durable impact on ticket sales.
Tim Tebow’s first season in the minor leagues was impressive in regards to how he drew fans. Tebow made notable and quick impressions for both teams for which he played — the Class-A Columbia Fireflies and St. Lucie Mets. And he fared well enough that he wants to continue his career next season if a team will have him.
Tebow’s biggest impact came in terms of attendance. St. Lucie broke its season record for total home attendance with a month remaining in the season. Columbia’s average attendance increased by nearly 40 percent by the time of Tebow’s departure.
Tim Tebow’s presence also positively affected attendance during his teams’ road games.
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The line stretches from the end of the dugout past the third base bag, all the way to the left field foul pole. Fans in a collection of jerseys from Florida Gators and Denver Broncos blues to Jets and Eagles greens, all with the same name on the back: TEBOW. They’re all hoping for the chance at an autograph or a picture.
In the history of minor league baseball, only Michael Jordan — who famously left the NBA to join the White Sox Double-A affiliate Birmingham Barons — had this type of affect on attendance.
For Tebow’s team, the Columbia Fireflies, attendance is up more than 30 percent this year versus this time last year. Like Jordan’s appearances did for the Southern League teams in 1994 (total league attendance that year topped 2.5 million fans), Tebow’s presence has had an even more significant effect on the road for Class A South Atlantic League teams like the Lakewood BlueClaws.
For most road stops, having Tebow come to town is worth a doubling in attendance compared to a standard game. At its extreme, it’s even more. The Hickory Crawdads drew more fans for the four games against the Fireflies (17,500) than they had for their first eight games leading up to the series (15,900). If Tebow stays the whole season in the league, road teams would see an additional cumulative $3.1 million from his presence, Baseball America calculated.
Had [a] game between the Fireflies and BlueClaws not been rained out, team executives believe they would have sold more than 10,000 tickets for the only the fourth time in the team’s 15-year history.
“He’s a celebrity, and he’s a brand,” BlueClaws director of ticket sales Jim McNamara said. “People from all walks of life know who he is. He markets himself to sports fans, families and has a religious following. Plus, the casual fan into pop culture is interested in him.”
…8,180 people showed up to see Tebow, who played in the first game of a doubleheader. Lakewood was averaging 4,848 fans prior to Tebow’s appearance.
Fans who came hours before to catch a glimpse of Tebow and get his autograph weren’t disappointed.
Despite the encouragement from a handler to go back into the clubhouse, Tebow didn’t stop until he signed for every person, a line of more than 100.
One fan gave Tebow a drawing of him in every uniform he has played in, from his days as a Florida Gator to his four stops in the NFL and lastly the Mets, with whom the Fireflies are affiliated. Selfies were also popular. Tebow happily obliged all requests.
And at this point, it’s difficult for the detractors to say his switch to baseball is a publicity stunt. Tim Tebow has sincerely given it his all, and the crowds seem to appreciate it.
If Tebow is able to continue his baseball journey next year, he’ll surely have a loyal fan base cheering him on.