"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."
Just got off phone with Tracy McGrady. He says, "This is not a gimmick. It's something I want to do." #skeeters— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) February 4, 2014
After playing a bit part on a Spurs team that made it to the Finals last year, Tracy McGrady retired in August. He's been appearing on NBATV in a far-too-large suit -- you know, retired stuff. But he's not necessarily done with sports.
While calling a game for ESPN Friday night, Jeff Van Gundy, McGrady's former coach with the Rockets, said that McGrady is trying out baseball. From Larry Brown Sports:
"Speaking real quickly of McGrady, I think he's going to play independent league baseball as a pitcher this year. In the independent league," Van Gundy said.
Play-by-play announcer Mike Breen was obviously stunned and asked if Van Gundy was being serious.
"I'm being serious. I've heard from sources in Houston - seriously - that he's throwing over 90 miles per hour. The Sugar Land Skeeters - Roger Clemens pitched for them last year, it was awesome."
Reportedly, this is A Thing:
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
The Skeeters aren't a high-level team -- they play in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball outside of the MLB farm system structure. And yes, they did have a 50-year-old Clemens suit up for two games in 2012, Although clearly the Houston-area team is willing to do some funky things for publicity, Clemens acquitted himself well, giving up three hits and no runs across eight innings.
Larry Brown Sports went in-depth on the prospect of McGrady pitching, noting that he said during his basketball career that he wanted to try baseball after hanging up the sneakers. We love all things T-Mac, so we'd love to see this happen.