To a college freshman quarterback with both a Heisman Trophy and national title on his résumé, an exhibition baseball game would rank as cool but not spectacular, you might think. Yet to watch and listen to Jameis Winston Tuesday at Steinbrenner Field, you could feel just how much this meant to him.
“It was surreal,” Winston said, after his Florida State team fell to the Yankees, 8-3. “Probably better than winning the national championship.”

He added: “Auburn wasn’t my favorite team growing up, but the Yankees definitely were. So this is obviously better.”

Winston led the Seminoles to a 34-31 victory over Auburn on Jan. 6 to capture the Division I college football crown.

Winston didn’t pitch against the Yankees, as hoped; Seminoles head coach Mike Martin said the right-hander (and switch-hitter) was “a little tender” in his previous outing, Saturday against Georgia. He entered the game in the bottom of the fifth in left field and came to bat twice. He grounded out to second base against Shane Greene and struck out looking against Bryan Mitchell. A left index finger injury suffered during football season has hindered his hitting.

More meaningful to Winston, it seemed, was getting to meet Yankees Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira and their retired teammate Jorge Posada. Now that he has met his childhood favorites Jeter and Ken Griffey Jr., Winston said, “I think my life is complete.”

On the field, he did little to promote the idea he could follow in the footsteps of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders and become a two-sport star; he received his biggest cheer when he broke his wood bat during his first trip to the plate. Yet he’s clearly thinking about it, and his football head coach Jimbo Fisher — who threw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday — said he supported his field leader’s ambition.