Columbia outfielder Tim Tebow smiles during a game against Augusta on April 6. (Sean Rayford / Associated Press)
The Charleston RiverDogs might’ve had a little too much fun with Tim Tebow’s visit to their ballpark as a player for the Columbia Fireflies over the weekend.
RiverDogs President and General Manager Dave Echols issued an apology after his team’s antics — which included playing the “Hallelujah” chorus whenever Tebow would come to bat and having the mascot wear eye-black with “John 3:16” written inside, like Tebow did during his college football days at Florida — received criticism on social media and elsewhere.
“While we believe that our promotions were poking fun at Mr. Tebow’s celebrity status rather than his religion or baseball career, our intent was not to offend anyone, and for the fact that we did offend, we are sorry,” Echols wrote in a statement to The Post and Courier.
Tebow was a quarterback won the Heisman Trophy and two national championships while at Florida and led the Denver Broncos to a playoff victory before his brief NFL career fizzled.
Now, at age 29, he’s giving baseball a try. In his first season as an outfielder with the New York Mets Class A affiliate Fireflies, Tebow is batting .224 with 45 hits, 21 RBI, three home runs, 66 strikeouts and 23 walks.
Other Tebow-related stunts pulled in Charleston this weekend:
— The park’s video screen labeled all other Columbia players as “Not Tim Tebow” when they were at bat;
— The same screen featured a photo of Tebow crying after the Gators’ loss to Alabama in the 2009 SEC championship game;
— The RiverDogs’ mascot struck the pose known as “Tebowing,” kneeling as if praying like Tebow was famous for doing during his football days;
— The announcer called for a strikeout when Tebow came up to bat and encouraged fans to applaud when the celebrity batter was called for a strike.
“I guess my comment would be that it was all very minor league,” Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said.
Alderson added: “I was a little surprised that halfway through the season that somebody decided to be cute and pursue that. But he’s bigger than that.”
Tebow finished the weekend with two hits in 12 at bats, no RBI and five strikeouts, and his team lost two of three games. For many, Tebow’s highlight of the series was this:
Echols said his team backed off the trolling of Tebow as the weekend went on. “Of the many promotional pieces that we executed, there were a handful on Friday’s game that some construed as in poor taste, and we made it a focus to remove those elements and celebrate Mr. Tebow the remainder of his time in Charleston,” he said.