The Norman Transcript

National Sports

February 13, 2014

McGrady talks about his quest to play pro baseball

SUGAR LAND, Texas — Baseball was Tracy McGrady’s first love.

His talent as a basketball player pushed baseball aside in high school, but he never gave up his dream to play again.

So at age 34 after a 15-year career in the NBA, the 6-foot-8 McGrady is trying to earn a contract as a pitcher with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.

“This will be huge,” he said Wednesday about the potential to play professional baseball. “This will be so gratifying, even if I just go out there and pitch one inning the whole season this will be a dream that has come true for me.”

McGrady starting playing baseball at age 5 and was a two-sport star until he transferred to Mount Zion Christian Academy, which doesn’t have a baseball team, for his senior year in high school.

The seven-time All-Star retired from the NBA in 2013 after playing for several teams including the Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic.

McGrady now has flecks of gray in his beard, but recounted his affinity for baseball with childlike enthusiasm, repeating the words dream and love again and again. He used the gigantic hands and rangy fingers that helped him score more than 18,000 points in the NBA to grip and fidget with a pristine baseball as he spoke delightedly about the sport.

“I’m extremely confident in myself and my ability,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for me to fulfill a dream. It’s the independent league. I’m not signing some multi-million dollar contract that I’m used to signing. This is all for the love of the game.”

The league isn’t affiliated with major league baseball, but a few of its players end up in the big leagues each year. Scott Kazmir, who recently signed a $22 million, two-year contract with the Athletics, pitched for the Skeeters in 2012.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Fieger leads Senior PGA

    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Gene Fieger shot a 3-under 69 in windy conditions Thursday to take a four-stroke lead in the Senior PGA Professional National Championship....

    April 18, 2014

  • Kuchar builds on momentum

    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — There were no major letdowns for Masters contenders Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage on Thursday. Kuchar, who tied for fifth at Augusta National, shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 to share the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Angel Jimenez set for Champions Tour debut

    DULUTH, Ga. — Miguel Angel Jimenez’s starring role in the best Masters ever for players 50 and over was the perfect lead-in for his Champions Tour debut....

    April 18, 2014

  • Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

    SAN FRANCISCO — Yasiel Puig believes he has the support from his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates and the club to help him keep his focus on baseball despite challenges off the field....

    April 18, 2014

  • Wainwright two-hits Nats

    WASHINGTON — Adam Wainwright threw a two-hitter Thursday night for his seventh career shutout, chipped in at the plate with a double and single, and St. Louis benefited from four errors by Washington in the Cardinals’ 8-0 victory....

    April 18, 2014

  • Rangers edge M’s

    ARLINGTON, Texas — When Kevin Kouzmanoff was riding the buses in Double-A two seasons ago, he kept his focus on returning to the majors and providing the kind of production that he is now delivering for the Texas Rangers....

    April 18, 2014

  • Shields strikes out 12 as Royals sweep Astros

    HOUSTON — James Shields struck out 12 in eight innings and the Kansas City Royals completed a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros with a 5-1 win on Thursday night....

    April 18, 2014

  • Bucks owner Herb Kohl reaches deal to sell team

    MILWAUKEE — Bucks owner Herb Kohl has reached a deal to sell the franchise to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for about $550 million....

    April 17, 2014

  • Hopes high for Negro League stadium comeback

    PATERSON, N.J. — The light touch of a paint roller is enough to dislodge a chunk of plaster from the crumbling walls of Hinchliffe Stadium. Though silent for decades, the former home of several Negro League teams is getting another chance ...

    April 17, 2014

  • Ryu takes early lead in LPGA LOTTE

    KAPOLEI, Hawaii — So Yeon Ryu shot a 4-under 68 on Wednesday to take the lead halfway through a windy first round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship. Japan’s Ayako Uehara was one stroke back....

    April 17, 2014