The independent Atlantic League team, coached by former major leaguer Gary Gaetti, signed McGrady on Wednesday. The Skeeters begin their season on Thursday. The 34-year-old McGrady joined the Skeeters last week during training camp and flashed enough promise to warrant the team giving him a chance to realize his dream of playing in the major leagues. “It’s an honor to be a part of this club,” McGrady said in a statement. “To be a 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 Sugar Land Skeeters have invited the 34-year-old McGrady to spring training, giving him a chance to earn a spot on the independent Atlantic League team. A seven-time NBA All-Star, McGrady has been training to become a pitcher with the team. “We’re intrigued by the progress Tracy has made thus far and really commend him for putting in the work,” Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti said.
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.”
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.”