Tim Tebow is retiring from baseball after five years as a minor leaguer with the New York Mets.
The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner returned to baseball in 2016 for the first time since his junior year of high school and reached Triple-A, encouraged by then-general manager and current team president Sandy Alderson.
Tebow, who works for ESPN’s SEC Network as a football analyst during the offseason, played 77 games at baseball’s highest minor league level in 2019, batting .163 with four home runs. He finishes his career with a .223 average over 287 games.
“I want to thank the Mets, Alderson, the fans and all my teammates for the chance to be a part of such a great organization,” Tebow said in a statement released by the Mets on Wednesday. “I loved every minute of the journey, but at this time I feel called in other directions.
“I never want to be partially in on anything. I always want to be 100% in on whatever I choose. Thank you again for everyone’s support of this awesome journey in baseball, I’ll always cherish my time.”
A lefty-hitting outfielder, the 33-year-old was invited to major league spring training this season, taking one of New York’s 75 spots after Major League Baseball limited spring roster sizes as a coronavirus precaution. Position players aren’t slated to report to the Mets’ spring complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, until next week.
Over four big league spring trainings, Tebow batted .151 in 34 games, connecting for his first and only homer last spring before camps were closed because of the pandemic.
“It has been a pleasure to have Tim in our organization, as he’s been a consummate professional during his four years with the Mets,” Alderson said. “By reaching the Triple-A level in 2019, he far exceeded expectations when he first entered the system in 2016 and he should be very proud of his accomplishments.”
Tebow’s baseball career began with a bang — he homered in his first professional at-bat during an instructional league game against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fall of 2016. Later that fall, he made headlines by comforting a fan who had a seizure in the front row during Tebow’s Arizona Fall League debut.
The former NFL quarterback — a first-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2010 — was an All-Star at Double-A in 2018, when he batted .273 with six homers in 84 games. He struggled the next year at Triple-A and had his season cut short by a laceration on his left hand.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.