Former Heisman Trophy winner comforts man who had collapsed with apparent seizure
By William Boor
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Tebow's Arizona Fall League debut lasted five and a half innings Tuesday afternoon, as the Mets' recent signee was removed in the sixth inning after grounding out three times, making one putout in left field and crashing into the wall on another attempt. But it was an incident after the game ended -- when he comforted a fan who appeared to suffer a seizure -- that had people talking.
The 29-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner made headlines when he homered on the first pitch he saw in the Florida instructional league, but he didn't have quite the same luck facing stiffer competition in the Arizona Fall League, finishing 0-for-3 with a trio of groundouts for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
"It was fun. Obviously I wish I could have done a little more at the plate and gotten a couple of hits, but it was fun," Tebow said after Scottsdale beat the Glendale Desert Dogs, 9-6, at Camelback Ranch. "Got to knock a little rust off."
Tebow was certainly the main attraction for the 912 fans in attendance. Some were spotted wearing Florida Gators gear, another wore a Tebow Broncos jersey and a Tebow Mets jersey was also spotted. The former quarterback was the recipient of some heckling throughout the afternoon, but he also drew the largest applause from the crowd.
And Tebow's interaction with the fans continued after the game. While he was signing autographs, a fan collapsed and appeared to suffer a seizure, and Tebow stayed by the man's side, providing comfort until the paramedics came.
According the Arizona Republic, the man remembered falling, but then nothing until he woke up to Tebow and another fan praying over him.
The former Florida Gators quarterback joked with the man upon learning that he was a University of Georgia fan, according to the Arizona Republic.
"You're a Bulldog?" Tebow said. "I don't even know what to say to that."
Tebow started in left field and batted seventh for the Scorpions. In his first at-bat, he took the first five pitches -- three balls and two strikes -- before fouling off a pair and eventually grounding out to second base. He did manage to hit the ball to the right-side, allowing Angels No. 3 prospect Taylor Ward to advance to third base. Ward later scored on a sacrifice fly to put the Scorpions up, 3-0, in the second inning.
In the bottom half of the third inning, Tebow got his first defensive action, catching a routine fly and drawing a steady round of applause. He had another defensive chance in the fifth and crashed into the wall attempting to track down a double off the bat of Dodgers top prospect Cody Bellinger.
"I knew it was hit well, so I just tried to make a play on it and was going pretty hard," Tebow said. "I thought I had another step or two and then ran into the wall. I've been hit harder, so I'm OK."
Tebow will certainly draw a crowd wherever he goes, and although it's a bit unusual for the Fall League, his teammates understand that it comes with the territory and are rooting for his success.
"With Tim here, he's a good dude, he's going to be a good influence on all of us," Ward said. "It'll be exciting to watch him develop over these six weeks. I'm rooting for him, I hope he makes it."
Tebow is slated to be with the Scorpions from Monday through Thursday and will fulfill his duties with ESPN's SEC Network as a college football analyst on Fridays and Saturdays. The Fall League is off on Sundays.
William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.