Tim Tebow Promoted To High Class A

After just more than two months in the South Atlantic League, Tim Tebow is moving up. The Mets announced on Sunday that Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback who last year rekindled his dream of playing major league baseball, was moving to high Class A St. Lucie in the Florida State League.

And although Tebow’s numbers—.222/.311/.340 with three homers and 23 RBIs—do not appear to warrant such a move, he certainly made an impact on the South Atlantic League. The hype started immediately after it was announced that he’d start his career in Columbia, and kicked into overdrive when he homered in his first plate appearance.

Scouts were low on Tebow’s tools, but league box offices certainly found him to be an 80-grade draw. J.J. Cooper chronicled The Tebow Effect and found that, on average, a Tebow appearance meant 2,210 fans (the exact number of fans the FSL’s Daytona Tortugas average per game) and $44,200 per night. Take that, postgame fireworks shows.

Fireflies president John Katz wished Tebow well in a statement, noting the atmosphere he brought to Columbia.

“Tim brought an incredible amount of experience and leadership to our clubhouse,” Katz said. “His contributions, both on the field and in our community, have made a tremendous impact on our team, the City of Columbia and the entire South Atlantic League. We wish Tim the best as he continues his journey to Citi Field.”

Now he’ll move to Florida, where he is revered for his exemplary career as the quarterback of the Florida Gators. St. Lucie is just three hours from the Gators’ home of Gainesville, so it’s not hard to imagine a whole lot more Florida blue and orange blending in with the Mets’ shades of those colors.

The average Florida State League game draws 1,404 fans. The lowest attendance for any of Tebow’s 63 games this year was 2,645, nearly double the average FSL game. It was also the only game he played with fewer than 3,000 fans.

That effect was true in the 2016 Arizona Fall League as well, where Tebow’s Scottsdale Scorpions drew 1,000 fans per game, up from 504 per game in 2015. AFL attendance as a whole was up, too, from 47,999 in 2015 to 62,905 in 2016. That’s an increase of nearly 25 percent.

The Tebow Effect is over for the South Atlantic League, but the ride is just beginning for the Florida State League.

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