BINGHAMTON, N.Y — The Portland Sea Dogs opened their 25th season Thursday night at NYSEG Stadium.

To most of the rest of the baseball world, the game’s significance was that it served as Tim Tebow’s Double-A debut.

The former Heisman Trophy winner stole the show as he has shown a tendency to do.

Tebow turned his first pitch at his new level into a three-run home run that keyed a five-run first inning and carried the Binghamton Rumble Ponies to a 6-0 Eastern League victory.

The game spoiled Darren Fenster’s debut as Sea Dogs manager.

“There’s a lot of people who were obviously here to see him tonight,” said Fenster, who led the Greenville Drive to their first championship last year in the South Atlantic League, where Tebow spent part of his first professional season. “He has a history of having a little bit of a flair for the dramatic, but at the end of the day, he’s a guy in the other dugout that we’re trying to beat.


“In the first at-bat, he got to Teddy (Stankiewicz). We handled him the rest of the night.”

Tebow, the former University of Florida, Denver Broncos and New York Jets quarterback, hit .226 with eight homers in 126 games last season. He has homered to start each of his first two professional regular seasons after also doing so in his first Instructional League at-bat after signing with the New York Mets’ organization in September 2016.

Stankiewicz struggled with his control early, walking three and hitting one while allowing three homers in the first 10 batters.

The Rumble Ponies did not score again as Stankiewicz settled in, then Matt Kent and Trey Ball each pitched two hitless innings of relief.

“After the first inning, Teddy settled down and what could have gotten really ugly there in the second, he only gives up one more run and then gives us two more innings,” Fenster said. “His end line does not look that good, but for him to continue to compete for three more innings is big.

“Then, the job Matty Kent and Trey Ball did to continue to attack and take advantage of their opportunity was good to see.”


Drew Gagnon retired the Sea Dogs 1-2-3 in four of his six scoreless innings. Two relievers followed in a combined four-hitter with 11 strikeouts.

Peter Alonso and Tebow gave him a comfortable lead after one inning.

“He walked the two batters before me,” said Tebow, who finished 1 for 4 and needed a late adjustment to make the catch after nearly overrunning the ball on his only official chance in the outfield. “On one hand, you’re thinking ‘he’s probably going to be a little bit wild and be patient’. A lot of times after a catcher makes a visit to the mound, the next pitch is going to be a fastball kind of down the middle to try to get going again.

“That’s kind of what I anticipated and that’s what it was. It felt pretty good.”

Binghamton completed the scoring when Jeff McNeil led off the second inning with a home run.

NOTES: The Sea Dogs are 13-12 in season openers. …


The Sea Dogs open their home schedule April 13 against Binghamton.

Left-handed pitcher Josh Smith was reassigned from Portland to Lowell Thursday. …

Attendance was announced at 5,247 with all field-level box seats sold out. Cold weather appeared to keep actual attendance below that and the crowd thinned out considerably after Tebow’s third at-bat to end the fifth inning. …

Game time temperature was 34 degrees with wind chills in the 20s. …

The series is scheduled to continue with games 7:05 p.m. Friday, 3:05 p.m. Saturday and 2:05 p.m. Sunday.

Temperatures are forecast to reach 48 during the day Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s high is listed at 36 by the Weather Channel. …

Tebow played 35 games in three NFL seasons.

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