Updates from Monday, March 10
The Sugar Land Skeeters have invited the 34-year-old McGrady to spring training, giving him a chance to earn a spot on the independent Atlantic League team.
A seven-time NBA All-Star, McGrady has been training to become a pitcher with the team.
"We're intrigued by the progress Tracy has made thus far and really commend him for putting in the work," Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti said.
Updates from Tuesday, Feb. 4
While Tracy McGrady hasn't made the Sugar Land Skeeters just yet, the team did confirm his pursuit via a press release on their official website:
Tracy McGrady is one of the most elite athletes of this era and we appreciate his interest in pursuing a life-long dream with the Sugar Land Skeeters and the Atlantic League. While the Atlantic League is considered the highest level of baseball outside of Major League Baseball, McGrady has demonstrated skill, determination and diligence during his training program at Constellation Field. We look forward to monitoring his progress.
McGrady also released this statement via Facebook:
As some of you may have heard, I have been practicing with The Sugar Land Skeeters, and working out at Constellation Field. It has been a longtime childhood dream to play baseball and for the past few months I have worked on my pitching with the team. Don’t yet know where this will go but I do know I am having a great time and throwing pretty well. Love the game of baseball and always wanted to give it a try. Feels like I am a kid again, playing a sport for the pure love of the game. @SL_Skeeters @AtlanticLg
McGrady has been working with Roger Clemens, who briefly pitched for the Skeeters, in 2012. Mark Berman of Fox 26 provides a few quotes from the seven-time Cy Young winner regarding T-Mac's progress:
Roger Clemens has been helping Tracy McGradyN his efforts2play pro baseball: "He's not anywhere close2 pitch 4the Sugar Land Skeeters(more)— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) February 4, 2014
More Roger Clemens from Sunday on TracyMcGrady:"The bullpen I watched him throw he was throwing 83maybe 85MPH.He's still trying 2locate it"— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) February 4, 2014
The days of former NBA superstar Tracy McGrady dominating on the hardwood may be over. But it appears the 34-year-old isn't ready to give up on a career in professional sports just yet.
According to KPRC-TV Houston sports director Randy McIlvoy, McGrady is considering a new career as a professional baseball pitcher:
Sources w/the @SL_Skeeters tell me that Tracy McGrady is eyeing pro baseball as a pitcher. CLocked at 91 MPH. Working out for 2 months.— Randy McIlvoy (@RandyMcIlvoy) February 1, 2014
McGrady's former coach with the Houston Rockets and ESPN color commentator Jeff Van Gundy also brought up the story during a Friday, Jan. 31 NBA broadcast, per For the Win's Sean Highkin:
I think he’s going to play independent league baseball as a pitcher this year. I’m being serious. I’ve heard from sources in Houston — seriously — that he’s throwing over 90 miles per hour.
While McGrady's latest sports venture seems bizarre given his age and NBA resume, he's clearly taking it seriously. As McIlvoy points out, the former USA Today High School Player of the Year has spent the past two months getting in shape and adding velocity to his fastball.
Tracy McGrady was one of the best pure basketball talents of my generation .. and now he's hitting 91 on the gun? Unreal ..— Travis Yost (@TravisHeHateMe) February 1, 2014
And considering McGrady is 6'8", you can't help but think of Randy Johnson. Better known as "The Big Unit," Johnson stood at 6'10" and won five Cy Young Awards on his way to posting more than 300 wins in the majors.
But Johnson had already been named a major league All-Star five times before his 34th birthday. But then again, Johnson never scored 13 points in the final 35 seconds of an NBA game.
Assuming McGrady is determined to break through on the mound, it's obvious his star power and appeal will give him an advantage in terms of landing a tryout and, ultimately, earning a contract.
McGrady played 16 seasons in the NBA from 1997 to 2013 and scored more than 18,000 points over that time. He earned seven All-Star nods and also won the scoring title in back-to-back years in 2003 and 2004.
For the better part of his career, McGrady was infamous for never having reached the second round of the NBA playoffs. He ended up getting to the NBA Finals with the San Antonio Spurs last season after joining the team late in the year in a reserve role, but failed to capture an elusive championship ring as the Spurs fell to the Miami Heat in seven games.
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