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MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Tebow’s baseball journey winds through Rome

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For at least one night, State Mutual Stadium was filled to the brim with fans. And while they might have only come to the game for four at-bats from an opposing player, it still caused quite the scene for a baseball game.

The Rome Braves beat the Columbia Fireflies 3-2 Monday night, but the main story was the arrival of Tim Tebow to Rome in only his third week in minor league baseball.

The former Florida quarterback and NFL player recorded one hit in his four at-bats, but the buzz surrounding each time he stepped to the plate made for quite the environment.

“Seeing a packed house on a Monday night at State Mutual Stadium, I think it is good for players,” Rome manager Randy Ingle said. “You want to have this energy. And those who came saw a great game tonight, no matter who was at the plate.”

One of the Fireflies’ two runs started with Tebow, who got on base via throwing error to begin the bottom of the fifth. He would eventually get to third and would score from there when Milton Ramos reached base on another throwing error.

His final at-bat in the ninth produced a single and helped lead to Columbia’s second run of the game.

The other two Tebow at-bats were far less entertaining with a groundout to second in the second inning and a strikeout in the seventh.

Before the game, fans who were part of the sell-out crowd lined Columbia’s sideline hoping for an autograph, and the former Heisman trophy winner was happy to oblige.

“If I have some opportunity to make some people happy by shaking a hand or signing an autograph, that’s pretty awesome,” Tebow said. “I have always wanted to be someone that transcends the sport I am playing.”

Most of Tebow’s teammates are in their early 20s or even teenagers. And while he doesn’t want to change his leadership style, the 29-year-old certainly hopes he can be some sort of role model for the players.

“I have been through a lot in sports, and not all the guys have been through as much,” Tebow said. “So to be able to give that experience to some of the younger guys, maybe they don’t have to go through all the highs and lows I have.”

Game 2 of the series is tonight at 7 p.m. with Tebow expected to start again in left field.