When you hear Michael Jordan, you usually think of one of the most dominant basketball players of all time.
You imagine his high-flying dunks with his tongue out. His iconic games and moments for the Chicago Bulls could also come to mind. You would also probably think of when he returned as a Wizard, but no one likes to discuss that.
Even fewer people remember the short time he played as a baseball player. For many Chicago sports fans, it was a weird time when the greatest basketball player of the time started lining up to hit fastballs and sliders.
On this day, Michael Jordan became a member of the Chicago White Sox farm system to try and fulfill his late father’s dream. While the result of his baseball adventures is far from desirable, this OKBET Sports article will look at this interesting time for basketball and baseball fans.
What Made MJ Quit Basketball?
Michael Jordan had everything he wanted in 1993. His Bulls just won their first three-peat after putting away the Phoenix Suns in six games. The Bulls dynasty ran smoothly as every man in the rotation knew their role and performed well.
However, everything changed that summer when Jordan’s father, James R. Jordan, Sr., became missing. The Jordan family spent three weeks looking for the patriarch privately before publicly announcing his disappearance.
He would eventually be found dead and become the center of a murder case. Two young men murdered Air Jordan’s father while he was sleeping on the side of the road and stole everything of value in the car.
MJ’s most ardent fans understood how close he was with his father. People close to Jordan understood that he was closest with his father and talked to him about giving baseball a try.
Given these facts, it was understandable when Jordan suddenly called for a press conference to announce his retirement from the game on October 6, 1993.
The Baseball Sabbatical of Michael Jordan
It didn’t take long for the public to know what Michael Jordan would do next. When he finally decided to try professional baseball, Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf convinced MJ to join the White Sox, the MLB team he also owns.
Jordan joined the White Sox’s spring training as a part of their roster and made decent plays there. He was assigned to the Birmingham Barons, the White Sox’s AA team. Since he’s the greatest basketball player of the time, fans naturally gravitated to Birmingham games to see him play.
Jordan played average during his time with the Barons. In his only season in the Minor Leagues, he finished with 88 hits, three homers, 51 RBI, 30 stolen bases, a .202 batting average, and a .290 on-base percentage. He was struck out 114 times and walked 51 times.
After a decent start in the minors, he joined the dugout of the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. Like his stint with the Barons, eyes were naturally drawn toward the team and the league.
His stats for the Scorpions were better than his time with the Barons. He had a .252 batting average during his time there, which shows significant progress for his short time back in organized baseball.
Jordan eventually left baseball to return to the Bulls. He then won three more championships before heading to his second retirement.
Was Jordan’s Baseball Stint a Failure?
Many would point to Jordan’s low numbers as enough reason to call his short year with baseball a failure. After all, it’s hard to make it to the show if you have nothing to help you stand out on the field.
However, context is usually forgotten when his stats are brought up. These numbers are awe-inspiring for someone who didn’t play organized baseball in over a decade. The fact that Jordan hit at least one of every five pitches he faced shows that he still has the stuff.
Moreover, his supreme athleticism in basketball also showed on the diamond. His 30 stolen bases testify to his elite sprint speed and instinct to get a good start to complete the steal.
His AA teammates also had nothing bad to say about his work ethic. Teammates who played with Jordan in 1994 noted that he was eager to work to improve his craft. They were also happy that he filled seats wherever they were playing.
Jordan could have made the Major League if he had stuck with the sport for two more years. However, it’s clear to everyone that choosing to return to basketball was the right call for him.
A Weird, Productive Year for Michael Jordan
The baseball career of Michael Jordan may have been short and unfulfilling, but it was something he needed to do for himself. After losing his father, MJ may have felt that playing organized baseball would be the perfect tribute to the man who was his best friend.
That odd year in Michael Jordan’s storied athletic career also probably gave him the hunger that he lost in 1993. It’s evident during his second three-peat that his competitive fire returned after taking a shot at the diamond.
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