Yes, the rumors are true. Retired National Basketball Association star Tracy McGrady is hoping to become a big league pitcher one day.
ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy let it slip Friday during a telecast of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Brooklyn Nets game, that the former Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets star has plans for a new career. No, seriously. During the telecast Van Gundy said,
I think (McGrady’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.
Apparently, baseball has always been McGrady’s first love. Last fall when he became part owner of an Independent League team that will commence playing in Biloxi, Mississippi in 2015, he was reported as saying,
I love baseball. That was my first love. Even to this day I love baseball more than I love basketball.
The 34-year old seven-time NBA All-Star has been reported to have been working out with Roger Clemens and the Sugarland Skeeters, an Independent League team outside of Houston where Clemens was a pitcher two seasons ago. Clemens’ son, Kody, is also now the team’s catcher.
All this was confirmed by Randy McIlvoy of Houston’s KPRC-TV via two tweets yesterday,
I think this is all well and good for McGrady. If you love the sport of baseball and have the means and talent to play it then why not go for it? I certainly would! What does he really have to lose?
There are concerns however about how well he would be able to perform and for how long, but in his case does that really matter? It doesn’t seem to be McGrady’s point. McGrady did suffer multiple injuries during his basketball career including a torn labrum in his shoulder a few years ago; which probably won’t help matters since he plans to become a pitcher.
There is also the question of his age but in these modern times (yes, of course I mean WITHOUT the use of performance enhancing drugs) many athletes are finding their careers lasting longer and longer.
Just look at Jamie Moyer. He last pitched for the Colorado Rockies in 2012 at the age of 49. He turned 50 in November of that year. Of course that doesn’t work for everyone and Moyer is certainly a special case but it makes 34 look pretty young in my opinion.
There’s also the case of Mark Mulder who is attempting to make a comeback off of injuries at the age of 36 and who hasn’t thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2009. The Angels are taking a chance on him at the minor league level and giving him the opportunity to fight for a spot in their starting rotation with an invite to big league spring training.
So why not encourage McGrady to pursue his true passion in the independent league for a little while? Who knows? In the next couple of years we may just see him signing a minor league deal with an invite to big league spring training. After that, as we shall find out with Mulder, anything can happen.