PARTSCH: A man chasing his childhood dream
Ville Platte Gazette Managing Editor Raymond Partsch III
I wanted to be Dale Murphy.
There was nothing that I wanted more as a small boy growing up than to wear No. 3 and play right field for the Atlanta Braves, well except maybe having the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier from the Sears Wish Book magically appear underneath my Christmas tree.
I would listen to Braves games with my late grandfather on his small radio in his den, as he cheered and many times cursed at the radio, but he seemingly never did when it came to “Murph.” I proudly wore Braves T-shirts to school and family functions, and nothing was more exciting than going to the ballpark down the street to play on my Little League team or to play catch in the yard with my dad and many times with my mom.
More times than not, I would imagine myself rounding the bases and bringing home a World Series title for my beloved Braves. For a brief time, I believed I was a Cy Young-winning pitcher, throwing to a taped square on the front of our house. Of course that dream ended when my breaking ball didn’t break and went through my bedroom window.
Still, as I grew up, the dream of being a baseball player never subsided, even if my skills on the diamond didn’t translate into any real success at any level.
My most prized memories as a baseball player would seem laughable to most.
There was the time in Little League I was beaned in the head during an at-bat. I was so woozy that I thought I was taking my base at first. In reality I actually had tried to run to third base and then promptly fell down as my mom panicked.
The second was when I was a bench player for my high school’s freshman team. Like I said I wasn’t very talented. Late in the season, I got my only action of the year as a pinch runner. I scored on a double. Even though I didn’t need to slide into home plate, I did it anyway, because I wanted to bring my mom home a dirty jersey.
Even though I wasn’t very good at baseball that never prevented me from loving it as much as I did, or still daydreaming about it years later just like nearly every other boy who ever felt something inside of them after they put on a glove or stepped inside a batter’s box.
It is a fantastic and cherished dream that is shared by millions of others.
Which is why I have been taken aback by the open disdain, bordering on hatred, that has been expressed about someone trying to live out that same dream -- Tim Tebow.
The former Heisman Trophy-winning and two-time national champion quarterback of the Florida Gators is now attempting to make it as a baseball player.
The New York Mets signed the 29-year-old last September, and Tebow has struggled mightily. After a brief time in the franchise’s instructional league, he would play 19 games in the Arizona Fall League batting a paltry .194 and 2 RBI while striking out 20 times in 62 at-bats. Not to mention, his defense in the outfield is questionable at best.
Tebow made his debut in the Grapefruit League on Wednesday as a designated hitter, facing reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox. Tebow went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and was hit by a pitch in the game.
As soon as Tebow expressed an interest in pursuing a career in baseball, people got up in arms about it. Everyone from fans to journalists have called it a publicity stunt (his No. 15 Mets jersey is already a best seller) or a way of furthering his Christian agenda, which was apparent in a piece by David Fleming who described Tebow “like a modern-day traveling tent-revival preacher.”
Tebow’s success as a collegiate athlete mixed with his seemingly genuine commitment to God has always made him one of the most polarizing modern athletes.
From wearing eye black with John 3:16 written on it to taking part in missionary work in the Philippines to discussing his faith proudly in his New York Times bestselling autobiography “Through My Eyes,” Tebow has inspired mockery and ridicule from many people.
Those same people loudly cheered when the former first-round draft pick and starting quarterback was traded from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets where his career quickly flamed out. There was even more revelry when he was signed and then cut in training camp by first the New England Patriots and then Philadelphia Eagles.
The harsh truth is that Tebow didn’t make it in the NFL because his skill set didn’t translate to the professional level. His throwing mechanics were always poor, partly because lefties are notorious for erratic throwing motion. He simply wasn’t a consistent and efficient passer. That was proven by the fact that he had the lowest passer completion rate in the NFL his last season with the Broncos.
So Tebow accepted his failure as a pro quarterback and went to work as commentator for the SEC Network, where he has actually done really nice work by the way, but now the former all-state high school baseball player now wants to pursue his childhood dream of playing baseball.
So why shouldn’t we be rooting for him?
Just because one is deemed a failure in one profession, and possibly another, or being a devoted Christian or being a former Florida Gator (talking to you LSU fans) is no reason to hope and cheer for someone to fail. There wasn’t this much bile spewed at Tebow’s former college teammate Aaron Hernandez, and he is in prison for murder.
Tebow is just a guy out there taking hacks and shagging fly balls in hopes that he can keep his childhood dream alive a little bit longer. That is something most of us that spent summer days on the ball field daydreaming about playing in the big leagues would gladly jump at trying -- even if it meant failure.