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Ex-Rocket McGrady’s Baseball Plans Put Sugar Land Team In National Spotlight

As he's pursuing a new career as a professional baseball player, former Houston Rockets basketball star Tracy McGrady practiced his pitch at Sugar Land's Constellation Field this week. The addition of McGrady could be good for the Sugar Land Skeeters' attendance numbers.

Tracy McGrady’s professional basketball career spanned 17 years, six of which he spent with the Houston Rockets, alongside Yao Ming. He retired last year after an NBA Finals run with the San Antonio Spurs. But basketball wasn’t McGrady’s first love. He says he’s wanted to play baseball since he was 5 years old.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pursue that because when I did transfer high schools, from Florida to North Carolina, we didn’t have a baseball club. So here I am, 16, 17 years later. You know, for my whole professional basketball career, I held on to that dream.”

McGrady, or T-Mac as he’s been called by fans, lives in Sugar Land and has been supporting his hometown baseball team, the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. The league says about itself that it has the “highest level of professional baseball other than the Major Leagues.”


A few clips of former Houston Rockets basketball star Tracy McGrady practicing his pitch at Sugar Land’s Constellation Field.

After finishing last in its inaugural season two years ago, the Skeeters placed first last year, with the best record in the league’s 15-year history.

But McGrady says he was going to join the team regardless of its record.

“Because they’re five minutes down the street, I always just wanted to come and support the hometown team and, you know, I’m a fan of baseball. But whether they didn’t have success or not, I still was going to give this a shot. But, you know, they had an unbelievable season last year and hopefully we can continue that this year, if I’m a part of the club.”

If McGrady makes the team should be decided within the next two months or so. The Skeeters hold tryouts on March 22.

But team advisor and former Houston Astros president Tal Smith says McGrady has a lot going for him and his height will work in his advantage. According to some reports, McGrady’s fastball is in the 90 miles per hour range.

“Obviously the mound is 60 feet 6 inches from home plate. If you’re 6’8”, that shortens the distance a little bit and the ball gets there a little bit quicker and hitters have less time to react.”

Season ticket holder Robert Shindler thinks T-Mac will be a good addition, and not just from an athletic perspective.

“Any additions we can get and we need the fans support, and things like this is going to do that.”

If anything, judging from the time since McGrady’s announcement earlier this month, media attention for the Skeeters is guaranteed.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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