It's not often that one of the biggest athletes with one of the most recognizable names comes to play baseball 15 minutes from your apartment in a town voted "Worst Place to Raise a Child in America" in 2015. Thats exactly what happened, though, on Sunday June 4th when Tim Tebow - the Heisman winning, National Championship Winning, First Round Pick, and 110th All-Time Career Playoff Wins Record Holder - and his MILB Columbia Fireflies came to Hagerstown to matchup in an exhibition against the Suns. Full disclaimer: I am not a huge baseball fan. I think baseball is unjustly named as America's Pasttime, largely due to the fact that each 3 hour game in an 162 game MLB schedule is unbearable to watch. That being said, I could not pass up an opportunity to make the short drive out to heckle one of the most famous athletes of my generation.
We showed up late, as most young men are known to do. Rather than rushing into the stadium to find seats for the first pitch, me and fellow PrettyGoodSports writer Albert Mattheis sat on the tailgate of my 2007 Ford F150 (Lariat package, not to brag) and crushed a 9 pack of alluminum Coors Light while blasting country music out of my truck's speakers. The parking lot was packed, so we figured that all of the seats in left field were taken by more loyal (and less late) fans. If we weren't going to get good seats, why should we rush into the stadium before getting our buzz on? Well after shotgunning our 3rd beer, we heard over the loudspeakers "Now batting for the Columbia Fireflies, Timmmmmm Teeebooowwwww". The crowd inside the stadium erupted. It was as deafening as a tiny minor league stadium can be. We threw back a couple more blue mountain cold Coors and trekked through the surprisingly full minor league parking lot to head into the stadium.
As we enter the stadium from the gate behind home base, I was struck by the number of blue and orange Denver Broncos #15 Tim Tebow jerseys. Those not dawning jerseys from the Mile High City were sporting #15 Florida Gators jerseys, and a select few were wearing #15 Columbia Fireflies jerseys. Whatever apparel the fans were wearing, one thing was clear: this massive crowd was here for Tebow, not to support their local minor league affiliate.
Albert and I scratched and clawed our way to the left field stands until we found a front row spot on the fence that was close enough to Tebow that he could accurately throw a football that distance. We strapped in. We knew we were about to go on a once-in-a-lifetime journey with one of the most recognizable athletes of our generation.
Let the heckling begin! The next two innings of baseball were muted by me and my pal screaming things at Tim Tebow:
"Aye Tebow! Do you drink 2% milk or are you a skim milk guy?"
"Timmy! Are those Oakleys or Raybans?"
"What size shoe are you Tim?? What is your waist size? 34? 36?"
I want to make it clear to our readers that we never yelled anything negative or anything with a bad connotation at Tebow. I'll admit that asking a grown man his pants size didn't make me feel great about myself, but I was trying to give the people what they wanted. Needless to say, the baseball traditionalists were unhappy with our heckling. One woman with a child at her side and a baby in her stroller yelled "Shut up, Mother Fuckers" at us within 5 minutes. Many people told us they were trying to "Listen to the game"... whatever that means. Never the less, we persisted. The woman who called us motherfuckers in front of her kids got stadium security to scold us and warn us to cease and desist. It was truly dark times.
Throughout history, the Davids beat Goliaths. With a great deal of fans sick of our antics (and a couple bros who had our back, shout out to you guys), the baseball Gods smiled down upon us. Tebow was batting in the fifth inning (he struck out), and cracked a high foul ball over the left field stands. Light the crack of thunder, we burst out of our luxury field spots and chased after the ball along with nearly every other fan in attendance. Dipping, dodging, ducking, and weaving through traffic, we reached the border of the field where the ball had just taken an unfortunate bounce over a barbed wire fence and out of the stadium. Most people gave up after that high bounce over the stadium fence, but not my guy Albert.
With the climbing speed of a squirrel and the dexterity of a chipmunk, Albert took a running start and jumped halfway up the 12 foot barbed wire fence where he began his ascent. Fighting off fellow ball chasers by any means neccessary, Albert reached the top of the high barbed wire fence. Hands pierced and bleeding, he stood victorious for only a moment at the top of the fence, and took the long leap to the ground outside of the stadium. Like a ninja, his land turned into a graceful roll where he immediately popped up and began his pursuit of the ball. Like an obstacle course, he battled many challenges such as high grass, bugs, and heat. Yet, he pushed through the pain, and emerged victorious.
With bloody hands from the barbed wire, he reached his arms to the sky, ball in hand, in exclamation in a praising fashion that would have made Tebow proud. We took that Tim Tebow foul ball, knowing we were one strike away from being forcefully removed from Hagerstown Municipal Stadium, and retreated victoriously to my truck knowing that we had just gotten the souvenier, and story, of a lifetime.