Tebowmania Grips Ocean County
Tebowmania has left Lakewood but I can tell you this: the hype over Tim Tebow’s one and only visit to FirstEnergy Park was very much for real.
On the field the Heisman Trophy winner did not do much, going 0-10 in three games with five strikeouts. He did score a run in last night’s 5-4 Columbia Fireflies victory over the BlueClaws after reaching base on an error.
However where he’s making an impact is at the box office and I’m sure all the teams in the South Atlantic League hope he stays with the Mets Class “A” affiliate for as long as possible.
Tebow’s three-day appearance in Lakewood drew 23,389 fans with both Monday and Tuesday night bringing in over 8,000. That’s an average of nearly 7,800 for the three days which is about 3,400 more than the BlueClaws were drawing prior to his arrival. Those numbers would have been even more impressive if Saturday’s game was not rained out as close to 10,000 were expected.
This is the 17th year of minor league baseball in Lakewood and I can tell you that without question Tebow’s arrival was the most anticipated by a visiting player. The only thing even close was when Bryce Harper played for the Hagerstown Suns in 2011.
I saw Tebow jerseys and shirts of all kinds in the crowd last night with his name and #15 for the University of Florida, Mets and Fireflies, Jets, Broncos, Patriots, Eagles. Every time he would come to the plate hundreds if not thousands of people would pull out their phones to take pictures and videos hoping for a home run…he barely hit the ball out of the infield.
As you may know the BlueClaws have led the South Atlantic League in attendance every year they’ve been in existence but Columbia could give them a run this season. The Fireflies are averaging a league-leading 5,214 fans a game with Tebow, an improvement of more than 1,400 from last season.
However his biggest value is when he goes on the road and unfortunately this visit to Lakewood was likely a one-time deal.