COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tim Tebow is a big-league hit in the accessory leagues.
The Heisman Trophy champ and aloft NFL quarterback has bush admirers about the Single A South Atlantic Alliance absorption to stadiums and jamming admission curve to see the Columbia Fireflies outfielder and designated-hitter.
The Hickory Crawdads awash out four amateur with the Fireflies, its absolute of 17,500 for the alternation afore the 15,900 they drew their aboriginal eight games.
“We had 4,500 bodies in the stands,” Crawdads division admission holder Christopher Pack said, “and 4,300 were there to see Tim Tebow.”
People appearance up in Tebow’s NFL jerseys, and Florida Gator outfits, lining up about the balustrade in this affectionate ballparks aggravating to get autograph or a selfie with Tebow.
It may be cryptic if he will anytime get to “The Show,” but one is clear: Tebow is the better appearance currently arena Class A ball.
That was credible aftermost Saturday in the eighth inning adjoin Hickory aback Tebow, on his off day with the New York Mets associate , heard the Crawdads army carol his name, acquisitive that Columbia administrator Jose Leger would get him in the game.
“It’s not article you see all the time,” Hickory accepted administrator Mark Seaman said.
The accustomed anarchy has been axiomatic during Tebow’s three alley trips in April.
In Augusta, Georgia, the GreenJackets front-office agents had to clutter and acquisition abundant workers for concessions: 5,830 admirers angry out, able-bodied aloft their season’s boilerplate of 3,190. A few canicule afterwards in Rome, Georgia, – accurately in the affection of Southeastern Conference football area area the aloft Florida Gator was a polarizing bulk – Tebow and the Fireflies drew 5,105 fans.
“That was two-and-half times what they ability accompany in for a d in mid-April,” said Lakewood (New Jersey) BlueCraws communications administrator Greg Giombarrese said. “That’s aback I knew this was article different.”
The Fireflies will comedy at Lakewood in a four-game set starting May 13. They accept awash out of their 6,588 assets sets for two of the amateur with actual bound basement accessible for the added two. Giombarrese said, afterwards audition about the added stops, the BlueClaws would accept added than 200 advisers at the esplanade to handle the admirers – about the bulk all-important for its best advancing amateur of the year like fireworks nights or added appropriate promotions.
Giomborrese anticipates a big weekend because Lakewood, amid a the Jersey Shore, is about 90 account abroad from the Mets home, Citi Field. It will be an befalling for analytical New York admirers to get a glimpse of the high-profile prospect.
“There should be a lot of Mets caps in the stands,” Giomborrese said.
Teams on the baby bush ambit are attractive to capitalize on Tebow’s appearance while it lasts.
The Lexington Legends in Kentucky appear a “Ten Tebow” admission amalgamation for the three alternation with the Fireflies, starting with a four-game set on Memorial Day weekend. The battling Greenville Drive in South Carolina fabricated the Tebow the focus of a beforehand area admirers accept fast-food hamburgers should he strikeout three times.
Tebow takes it all in stride.
He’ll about assurance autographs afore games, smile and beachcomber to auspicious fans, aggregate his acceptance with the assignment all-important to accomplish the above leagues.
“Any time you get abutment it feels acceptable and bodies see you, watch you comedy or agitate your hand,” Tebow said. “You can’t let it affect you, acceptable or bad. You aloof accept to break bound in and break focused on the assignment at hand.”
Tebow is steadily award his beat . He homered alert in the season’s aboriginal weekend, but has not had addition since. His boilerplate is beneath .250, yet he’s cut bottomward on his strikeouts as he finds a adequate area at the plate.
The South Atlantic Alliance dates its roots aback to Ty Cobb, who played in the league’s countdown d with Augusta in 1904. Stars like Cobb, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Steve Carlton spent time in the “Sally” alliance on their way to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The alliance is one area teenagers with abeyant beforehand and advance, said South Atlantic Alliance Admiral Eric Krupa, with admirers who can say “remember when” already the adolescent stars ability the bigs. Tebow is a activating the alliance does not generally get, an accustomed personality with a civic fan base.
Columbia Admiral John Katz was a beginning baseball staffer with the then-Double A Carolina Mudcats aback Michael Jordan came to his home accompaniment in 1994 with the Birmingham Barons. The aberration seemed alike bigger, Katz said, because Jordan was the NBA’s best amateur still in his prime.
“There are some similarities with how bodies about-face out for Tim,” Katz said.
It’s alone applicable the Fireflies are benefiting the best from the latest Tebow mania.
The Fireflies – the longtime Savannah Sand Gnats afore affective to South Carolina in 2016 – advance the alliance in attendance, averaging 5,027 admirers per game. Bodies appearance up in Tebow’s NFL jerseys, and Florida Gator outfits, lining up a the abuse for an autograph or a selfie with Tebow.
“It’s been all positive,” Katz said.
Tebow, 29, active with the Mets aftermost summer. His baseball shelf activity is beneath than his teammates, some added than a decade younger. Tebow and Katz both say there’s no calendar for him to leave the Fireflies – and put an end to the bang South Atlantic Alliance teams are adequate aback he shows up.
“We don’t apperceive how continued this is activity to last,” said Krupa, the alliance president. “But we’re activity to adore it while it does.”
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
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