Having gone from New York Giants starting quarterback for two seasons to playing for the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League in 2001, Danny Kanell relates to Tim Tebow’s baseball aspirations.
“I commend him for it,” said Kanell, ESPN college football analyst and co-host of ESPN Radio’s Russillo and Kanell. “I think it’s a great decision on his part. That window is very finite. So for that I think, ‘Go ahead and try it. Give it a shot.’ ”
Tebow is scheduled to work out Tuesday for scouts, reportedly from up to 20 major league teams, in Los Angeles.
“That first at-bat when [Tebow] sees that first breaking ball break his ankles because he’s ducking out thinking it’s going to hit him,” Kanell said. “That’ll probably be the biggest challenge.”
A Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Florida, Tebow played three NFL seasons, while Kanell was a former Florida State QB standout and six-year NFL veteran upon trying baseball.
Tebow, 29, last played organized baseball in high school. Kanell was 27 when he joined the now-defunct Bears, last playing baseball as a college sophomore.
“I think there’s a better chance than most people will give him,” Kanell said of Tebow’s odds to succeed in baseball. “Because you’re already talking about an athlete who’s in the 1% of athleticism.”
Kanell, 42, was drafted in the 19th round of the 1992 MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers out of high school and in the 25th round by the New York Yankees as a junior in 1995.
In 25 games playing third base and first base for the Bears, Kanell hit .237 with one home run and six RBIs. He considers that successful.
“I got it out of my system,” Kanell said. “I got to say I did it.”
Most memorable for Kanell was going 0-for-3 off ex-big league closer Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams.
“I got to face Mitch Williams,” Kanell said. “Like, how cool is that?”
Kanell’s Newark teammates included former major leaguers Pete Incaviglia, Jack Armstrong and Hensley Meulens. Jose Canseco’s departure from the Bears created a roster spot.
“I think that actually helped me win over the locker room because I think they liked me a lot better,” Kanell said, laughing.