Retired seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady made the Sugar Land Skeeters roster on April 23, fulfilling his lifelong dream of playing professional baseball.
Tracy McGrady made the Sugar Land Skeeters roster on April 23.
The Skeeters, a member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, issued a press release about McGrady's signing on their official website:
"The Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball announced today that the club has signed right-handed pitcher and seven-time National Basketball Association All-Star Tracy McGrady to its 2014 roster.
"Prior to Skeeters' Opening Day Ceremonies, McGrady will be available to the media on Thursday, April 24 at 5 p.m. at Constellation Field.
"'It's an honor to be a part of this club for the 2014 season,' said McGrady.'To be part of the team means everything to me and it's a dream come true.'
"'I look forward to coming to the ballpark not only to play the game but to be in the clubhouse building camaraderie with these guys. I am excited to start the journey we're going to take this season.'
"The 6-foot-8, right-handed pitcher officially reported to spring camp last week and made his first scrimmage game appearance with the Skeeters against Alvin Community College on April 16.
"Through 1.0 inning of work, McGrady allowed one run on three hits with no walks and no strikeouts.
"'We are excited about our team this season and having Tracy McGrady as a part of it,' said Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti. 'We're also excited to see what unique opportunities this could present for us in putting a good product on the field and we look forward to Tracy helping us win some ball games.'"
Gaetti also told Fox 26 of Houston sports director Mark Berman that McGrady showed enough potential to crack the Skeeters' roster.
"Tracy is on the team. He's just done what needed to be done since the idea came about.
"He showed enough progress. He showed enough ability and we're going to see where this goes.
"There's so many unique things about it. It doesn't matter how hard you throw.
"You got deception. You got velocity. You got location. You got stuff.
"I had to ride it out. There was no reason to make that decision until I absolutely had to.
"We kind of all knew that there was a pretty good possibility he was going to make the team."
Prior to trying out for the Skeeters in March, McGrady, who made more than $160 million during his NBA career, told Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown on Feb. 4, he's determined to become a baseball player.
"This is not a gimmick. This is serious business. I don't want to embarrass myself or my family or an ogranization. This is real.
"Honestly speaking, I had it in the back of my mind my whole NBA career.
"What I want it to turn into is to pursue a professional baseball career. This is my childhood dream. I don't know where this is going to go, honestly. But I'm committed to it.
"This is just sheer love for the game. It's just an athlete that always wanted to fulfill his dream to play baseball."
The 34-year-old McGrady now follows in the footsteps of six-time NBA champion and current Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, who suited up for the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League in the mid-1990s, per Brown.
The Yahoo! Sports report also cites the example of Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who had a .220 batting average in parts of three seasons with MLB's Toronto Blue Jays.
Football players Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles are also into baseball.
Wilson spent a day with the Texas Rangers during their spring training last month while Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner who guided Florida State to the BCS national title in January, is an outfielder and relief pitcher for the Seminoles men's baseball team.
McGrady played in 16 NBA seasons for six different teams -- the Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks.
A two-time scoring champ, McGrady also won the 2001 NBA Most Improved Player award. He retired in 2013 with career averages of 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists, per ESPN stats.
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