When you think of Michael Jordan, you probably remember him, depending on how old you are, as either a crying face on Twitter, a great basketball player, someone who makes shoes, or as one of the all-time greats when it comes to gambling on golf.
You may not remember him for baseball, despite him having tried to play it professionally for a whole year! I swear it’s true, and not just from the opening 15 minutes of Space Jam where he strikes out and everyone is nice to him.
Today, February 7, marks the 23rd anniversary of the day MJ signed with the Chicago White Sox organization and tried to make it to Major League Baseball. Spoiler: he didn’t get there.
Jordan reportedly, “retired” from basketball after the 1993, it had nothing to do with gambling debts he racked up, and to honor his dad, thought he’d try his hand at pro baseball because when you’re rich and famous people let you do anything you want, regardless of experience with said subject.
It did not go well. During his 127 game stint with the AA Birmingham Barons (against many top prospects) Jordan hit a robust .202 with 3 HR and 51 RBIs. For those of you who don’t know baseball, that’s bad.
He was actually kind of impressive with plate discipline, racking up 51 walks in 497 plate appearances, and also stole 30 bases on 48 attempts. He also got beaned four times, and, if you’re reading this and beaned Michael Jordan, please email me or comment because I would love to hear that story.
The big issue for Jordan was strikeouts, whiffing 114 times in those 497 plate appearances, more than 20 percent of the time, and errors in the field. Despite playing just 119 games in the field, and as an outfielder, he racked up 11 errors in that time, but did post a pretty decent six outfield assists as well.
Regardless of how well he played, the Barons, or whatever team hosted them that night, played in front of packed houses all season just for the chance to see MJ.
Let’s take a look at some highlights! Here he is hitting his first of three minor league home runs!
And here he is hitting a double with the White Sox in an exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs!
And that’s about it. Seriously, YouTube “Michael Jordan baseball” and not much comes up.
Jordan went on to play in the Arizona Fall League, where teams send their top prospects for a month to compete against other top players and actually hit a respectable .252. Sadly, with MLB in the midst of a strike the next season, Jordan decided he’d had enough baseball and went back to the NBA to win three more titles.
If you’d like more on this, ESPN had a pretty decent 30 for 30 about the whole saga called “Jordan Rides the Bus”, so here’s to you MJ, thanks for giving us a couple baseball memories back in the 90s.
Attempts to reach Michael Jordan for comment were not returned.