When Tim Tebow was thinking of returning to baseball, a game he had not played in a decade, one of the first people he sought advice from was his father.
Tebow credits Bob Tebow and mother Pam as two of the inspirations in his life, so it was natural to seek his father’s input when making one of the biggest choices in his life.
“If you want to do it and you love it, it doesn’t matter what anybody else says. Go do it and he believes in me,” Tebow said of his father’s message about playing baseball. “You don’t have to listen to what other people have to say.”
Tebow and his father have always been close, and he said some of his best memories with his dad are when the two spent time together driving to games and practices over the years. He used his dad as a sounding board after games, venting when things went bad and talking about things he could improve.
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Tebow took his dad’s advice and ignored critics who doubted his ability to play baseball after a standout football career at Florida and in the NFL. Tebow has had some big moments for the Columbia Fireflies, the New York Mets’ Class A affiliate which is battling for a division championship in the South Atlantic League.
Tebow enters the weekend with his average around .230, three home runs and 21 RBIs.
“I knew he could do it if he wanted to,” Bob Tebow said as he watched his son take batting practice at Fluor Field before Wednesday’s game against the Greenville Drive.
Tebow’s parents have attended several games this season and will be in Charleston for the Father’s Day weekend, along with one of his Tim’s brothers, as the Fireflies close out the first half of the season against the RiverDogs.
“It’s going to be fun to spend the whole weekend and Father’s Day with him and my mom. Just to be able to enjoy the time. You cherish it,” Tebow said.
Spending time with his father is important to Tebow, especially now. During a November interview with People Magazine, Tebow revealed his father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last spring. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects nerve cells in the brain and makes movement difficult and causes dementia – among other serious issues. It affects around one million people per year in the United States.
“You see your dad as such a rock, and so to see him slow down is tough. But at the same time, it makes me admire him that much more. It won’t stop him helping people and taking trips around world,” Tebow said. “My dad is someone that is so bold, so courageous, such a fighter and so much more than I will ever be.
“The greatest thing I have seen from him is his passion for what really matters in his life and live it every day. For me, I try to take that passion and bring it to what I am doing every single day. Blood, sweat or tears, people believing in him or not in him, being healthy or sick fighting Parkinson’s, whatever it is. I never see him give up or quit.”
Bob Tebow and his wife became missionaries in 1985 and lived in the Philippines until 1999. He founded the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, which is involved in evangelism, church planting and pastor training in the Philippines. They also founded Dick’s Orphanage there.
Since he was a teenager, Tim went on mission trips to the Philippines with his dad and recently went on one last year. Like his father, Tebow has made it a priority to help those in need.
Tebow started his own foundation, which has a variety of outreach initiatives. He opened Tim Tebow Cure Hospital in the Philippines where he was born. Other parts of the foundation include WI5H (which Tebow meets kids with life-threatening illnesses) and Night to Shine, which is a nationwide prom event for people with special needs.
Tebow hosted some of the W15H kids last weekend at Spirit Communications Park in Columbia.
Tebow said investing in people’s lives is more important than what he has accomplished in football and baseball. It is a trait he got from watching his father and the impact he has had over the years.
“He has given his entire life to serve people and love people. People that could never do anything for him,” Tebow said. “So many people in the Philippines, Thailand and all over the world that he has served and continues to serve. His ministry will last longer than he will be on this earth.
“I think that is really special. I think what is most special is that his legacy isn’t going to be left in stuff. It is going to be left in people. The lives he changed and the lives he invested in. That is going to be really special.”