It may not count in the standings, but all eyes were focused on George Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday afternoon as the New York Yankees played host to Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles. 

The Yankees did win the game, 8-3, but that was a mere formality. Even the best college teams are going to struggle against professional squads because of the talent disparity and the use of wood bats in the game. For his part, Winston went 0-for-2 at the plate, coming in as a replacement in left field in the fifth.

Winston’s appearance in the game and New York’s unofficial start to spring training made this one of the most talked about baseball events of the winter. 

While his long-term future lies in football, Winston has brought a much-needed buzz to college baseball this spring because of his profile. He splits time between the outfield and pitching, as he did in Tuesday’s game. 

This was obviously a special attraction for fans in Florida, who took to the stadium to mob the star quarterback on a day when professional MLB stars like Brett Gardner were in the lineup and others, like Derek Jeter, were also in attendance. 

Even though I mentioned Winston’s long-term future is in football, Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher seems to think that his star quarterback could split time between both sports if he really wanted to and entered the right situation (via Brendan Sonnone, Orlando Sentinel). 

Of course, even though he didn’t get to play on the same field as most of the Yankees’ biggest stars, that didn’t mean Winston missed out on an opportunity to take a picture with two of the franchise’s biggest icons (via SportsCenter). 

Also before the game took place, Winston took a few hacks in the batting cage with fans and teammates watching.

Even though Winston was the focus of today’s game, Fisher got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

After all the build-up, Winston finally entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, taking over in left field for D.J. Stewart. His first plate appearance came in the top of the sixth inning. The drama was all for naught, as Yankees pitcher Shane Greene got the two-sport star to ground out on a ball to second base. 

Even though the at-bat didn’t end in successful fashion, Sweeny Murti of WFAN New York noted that all anyone in attendance wanted to see was Winston make some kind of contact with the ball. 

Sometimes winning a Heisman Trophy and a national championship for a beloved college team in a sports-obsessed state like Florida has some perks, like getting a rousing ovation for a foul ball. 

Winston did get a second at-bat in the eighth inning, but as David Waldstein of The New York Times said, it was hardly a banner moment for the biggest star in college sports. 

Despite some thought that Winston would pitch in the game, Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted that Florida State coach Mike Martin opted to not let Winston pitch because his arm was a little tender.

Winston’s absence on the mound made for a rather uneventful conclusion to the game, since the only attraction left in the later innings, when the Yankees had taken control of things, was seeing the Heisman winner throw to professional hitters. 

After the game was over, Winston was mobbed by fans and reporters. One of the most interesting things he said came from a question about why he still plays baseball (via Andrew Astleford, Sun Sports Florida).

Most of the time, two-sport stars are forced to choose between one or the other upon entering college because of time commitments. Good for Winston to keep doing both while he still can. 

Winston also found meeting members of the Yankees to be quite the thrill in his young life, but not quite as good as winning the BCS title (via Joe Smith, Tampa Bay Times).

Despite being a preseason third-team All-American selection by Baseball America, Winston hasn’t had a major impact on the team thus far. He’s 1-for-1 with a single and walk in two games as a position player. 

On the mound, Winston has made a bigger impact. He’s strictly a reliever, appearing in three games covering four innings with no runs allowed on one hit, three strikeouts and one save. 

Since his baseball future, if he wants to have one, is likely on the mound, it’s a shame that Winston’s arm wasn’t cooperating enough to let him throw against the Yankees. That could have done a lot to enhance his MLB draft profile, though there is still a lot of work to do in that regard. 

Instead, Winston can just take solace in knowing that he got two at-bats in an exhibition game against the Yankees and was the main attraction. 


Note: Florida State stats courtesy of

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