TAMPA – One of my favorite people in all of baseball happens to be New York Mets Public Relations director Jay Horwitz. The reason being is that Jay has always been a true friend of all baseball players. Someone that really cares about the person. Someone that when the player is out of the game, Jay stays in touch with them to make sure they are okay and always tries to extend a hand.
I have seen this time and time again with players like Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Roberto Alomar and countless others– players that I have dealt with on personal levels.
This week Tim Tebow is visiting the George M Steinbrenner Field with the Mets, St Lucie A Ball team playing against the Tampa Yankees. I called Jay to ask about the protocol for the day in regards to an interview. He told me to see their Minor league PR director that was traveling with the team. When I got there, the gentleman told me that there would not be any one-on-one interviews so unfortunately I was not able to speak with him.
I enjoyed the electricity that Tebow was creating with his visit to Steinbrenner Field. The people in the stands were literally having a great time just with the anticipation. This really reminded me of a George Steinbrenner type situation. I couldn’t help but to think that if the Boss was alive this would have been “right up his ally.” The only difference being that with the Boss’s great knack for public relations we may have had to rent out the Raymond James Stadium across the street.
I was happy to have seen a couple of the young Met players that I personally know and they told me what a great teammate Tebow is and that his work ethic is “through the roof.” They say that he is an inspiration to so many of his teammates.
One player said that the fact that Tebow came from another sport and has been able to show this type of ability in what is probably a more complex sport has driven him to be better. Being a Latino, I was curious how the Hispanics felt on the team. The Latino players are totally aware of Tebow’s celebrity “status” and realize that he is a man of good will. Sitting in the stands the first night, there were many disappointed fans because Tebow didn’t play however, many said they were coming back the next night to see him play.
The next day I happened to be at the Hines Minor League Complex watching my son Ricky, who is an infielder for the GCL Dunedin Blue Jays, playing against the Yankees gulf coast league team. After that game, I went back to Steinbrenner Field and took care of a couple of errands. When my friend Aris and I were walking out of the park we ran right into the guest of honor, Tim Tebow.
Our eyes met, I extended my hand. I told him who I was and told him that I admired his journey. I told him that I admire the fact that he understands that he is here on earth as a messenger of a higher power. I could tell that he appreciated these words. With all of his celebrity, his journey can sometimes be very, very lonely. Many of the fans don’t understand this because they get caught up with what they think is more important to them, the fanfare. The bottom line is, I wish him well and hope that he can be all that and more. I feel that many people in need will benefit from it.
I know for a fact, the Boss would have gone out of his way to meet Tebow. He would have liked what he saw and would have sent Tebow one of his famous hand written letters to show his appreciation and good luck. (Many people aren’t aware that the Boss did this with Doc Gooden when he was a Met.) Cudos to Vance Smith and the Yankees minor league staff for running a good show for the fans. Not an easy task when you go from hosting five hundred people to five thousand people over night.