Well, in between those two three-peats, the Chicago White Sox had the honor of having Michael Jordan play in their organization. He was invited to as a non-roster player to Spring Training in February. “Michael was always talking about himself as a baseball hitter,” Krause said. But it could have certainly altered the course of Chicago sports history. All of this hot stove talk reminded Jerry Krause of a story. And had he been playing for another owner besides Jerry Reinsdorf, would it have been such an easy move to go right back to the Bulls? Your favorite teams, topics, and players all on your favorite mobile devices. The latest Michael Jordan Stats, Video Highlights, News and more from MiLB.com. In March, Jordan returned to basketball. Even though the MLB strike continued into the 1995 season, minor league players were not affected, so Jordan showed up at spring training. Here are the basics: None of those regular-season numbers are particularly good, as you can see. He said, as quoted in TSN, “He just needs to play. The league average in the Southern League that year was 16.4 percent, pretty significantly below Jordan’s rate. But maybe he was ahead of his time. He played some exhibition games with the White Sox before being sent down to the minors. Probably not, but maybe. The what-if of baseball would never be answered. Could Michael Jordan have played in MLB? They popped 40 as a team, last in the Double-A Southern League. The Chicago Bulls were so … Jordan played right field for the Barons. It will take him several years to learn the chess game played by big-league pitchers with exceptional control.”. Here’s a bit of context: Yes, he only hit three home runs, but nobody really hit homers for the Barons that year. "If not for his relationship with the White Sox, (the A’s offer) might have been something he might have done. Michael Jordan's departure from his life as the greatest basketball player in the world to play minor league baseball with the White Sox is the stuff of Chicago legend. The Chicago Bulls lost Michael Jordan for a year and a half because he went and played baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization. Jordan played 127 regular-season games for the Birmingham Barons, the White Sox’s Double-A affiliate, in 1994. RELATED: Jerry Krause's White Sox tenure meant "he had a hand in seven championships". I don't even know who the 25th man is on our major league team right now, I will sign him and put him on the major league roster. But it might have gone quite differently. That’s 22.9 percent of his PAs. Krause built the Bulls into a three-time NBA champion after a decade as a baseball executive. And with a different organization altogether. Had Jordan achieved his dream of playing Major League Baseball right away, would he have been so quick to abandon the sport and make his return to basketball in 1995? He’d been regularly taking batting practice at Comiskey Park, and he’d talked pretty openly about his desire to try his hand at baseball, now that he’d hung up his very famous sneakers. But if Jordan hadn't been a Bull, if Reinsdorf didn't own both an NBA team and a Major League Baseball team in the same city, if the conditions hadn't been exactly right, Jordan might have gone to the big leagues in Oakland. "It wasn’t about, 'We’ve got a spot for him, he’s got a particular skill,'" Alderson told Olney. Maybe he would have eventually made the big leagues. It’s a good building block for next year.”. Jordan started slowly in spring training games, which was to be expected. He believed that he would have found a way to the MLB if he reached 1500 at-bats in the MiLB. But he also played baseball! Chicago Bulls (Photo credit EUGENE GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images). They were an elite team during those years so they didn’t have all that much space, but you have to assume Jordan would have been given a shot in the MLB. 45 on his back, he tapped a comebacker to Rangers pitcher Darren Oliver, who tagged the NBA legend out unassisted. And so Jordan opted for the comfort of a Reinsdorf-owned organization. From another Kindred column in TSN, shortly after Jordan returned to the Bulls. Or might his return come with another team? The Chicago Bulls were so dominant in the 1990s. Here’s something you might have forgotten: Jordan didn’t quit on his baseball dream immediately after the 1994 season, even though that major-league season ended in August with the players strike. pic.twitter.com/9Dh9UFsG25. And with a different organization altogether. Found this in the Sporting News archives. But on Oct. 6, 1993, right before the Bulls’ training camp was set to open, Jordan announced his retirement. "You recall when Jordan stopped playing basketball and decided to try baseball, and ultimately went down to the Birmingham Barons — the Chicago White Sox affiliate," Alderson said. Michael Jordan knew he was going to leave the Chicago Bulls to play baseball in 1992 While Michael Jordan’s retirement announcement shocked the world in 1993, as did his decision to play baseball, it was apparently a plan that had been in the works for quite some time. The 30 stolen bases are nice, but the 18 times he was caught stealing negated that value. Jordan struck out 114 times in 497 plate appearances. He struggled at times, but by all reports seemed to get better as the season progressed. Your privacy is safe with us. He departed when the official spring training games with replacement players were set to begin, as neither Jordan nor the White Sox had any intention of getting him involved with that ugly element of the game. So could he actually have? Terry Francona, who went on to a fair bit (OK, a TON) of success as a MLB manager, was his manager in Birmingham and in the AFL. Know what the average MLB strikeout percentage was in 2019? "I was excited about (the offer), and Michael was very appreciative," David Falk, Jordan's agent, told MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. I truly believe that he rediscovered himself, his joy for competition. Michael Jordan’s first retirement was rather shocking, as ESPN's stellar 10-part documentary, "The Last Dance," will certainly chronicle. It was news that shook the NBA, though rumors and reports had begun to leak out the day or two before. Jordan had the chance to be part of a major league roster that also included Rickey Henderson and Mark McGwire. "But he wanted to do the baseball thing from the ground up. All Chicago Sports news from FanSided Daily, The 1996 Chicago Bulls were the greatest basketball team of all time, Chicago Bears: Matt Nagy is all out of excuses, Michael Jordan: Winning 6th NBA Title With Bulls Was ‘Trying Year’, Chicago Bulls: "The Last Dance" and Jordan silencing critics, Chicago Bulls 2-Round Mock Draft: A potential steal falls, Top 25 Super Bowl Performances of All Time, Each NHL Team's Most Likely Future Hall of Famer, 30 Greatest Teams in Premier League History, 28 most memorable buzzer beaters in March Madness history. At Double-A, pitchers can't spot the fastball and the breaking ball. The idea was, 'We’ve got Michael Jordan on our team' and the interest that would have generated.". Jordan played in the Arizona Fall League that year, batting .317 in his first 41 at-bats and finishing with a .252 average in 123 ABs. If Michael had pursued baseball out of high school, I don't doubt he would have wound up making as much money in baseball as basketball. Found this gem of a quote from Joe Torre, on Michael Jordan's baseball hopes, in The Sporting News archives. Former Oakland Athletics general manager Sandy Alderson told ESPN's Buster Olney on a recent edition of the Baseball Tonight podcast that he offered Jordan a spot on his major league roster in 1994. When Jordan officially announced his next career move, though, his decision was pretty much the worst-kept secret in sports. Baseball wasn't the only thing he picked up. Jordan loved playing baseball as a kid. Michael Jordan played baseball for over a year before returning to the NBA. “But there's something else that people miss about that season. Jordan did hit all three of his homers in the second half of the Barons’ season, even though his average took a bit of a tumble after a decent start (he hit .265 in his first month with Birmingham). With No. Jacksonville, then a Seattle affiliate, led the league with 131, and every other team other than the Barons hit at least 63. He was intensely competitive, and it didn’t matter what the competition was. Baseball is a function of repetition. So when he stepped away from the basketball court officially, he decided to try baseball the next spring, partially as a tribute to his father, who had been murdered in the summer of 1993. He had Terry Francona as his MiLB manager which is really cool to know. “So I said, ‘Let’s go to Comiskey, and you get in there against a batting practice pitcher. But it might have gone quite differently. It was just following the passing of his father. This story, written by longtime Sporting News columnist Dave Kindred, ran in the Jan. 17, 1994, issue of TSN (published about a month before he officially signed with the White Sox). In typical Jordan fashion, though, he did have this unforgettable spring training moment on April 7, when he went 2-for-5 in the Windy City Classic exhibition game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Whenever Jordan went off on one of his I-can-do-anything speeches — Jerry Reinsdorf says that Jordan once bowled two strikes by throwing the ball backward between his legs — Krause would be there to challenge Jordan’s claims. He practiced with Herm Schneider, a White Sox trainer, in December of 93. Michael Jordan is usually considered #1 in a couple of areas: The greatest basketball player who ever lived, and the wealthiest athlete, of whatever variety, ever. Not sure I knew that Michael Jordan almost played baseball in the White Sox organization in 1993, too. Those are hypotheticals that Bulls fans fortunately don't have to worry about. He was on top of the basketball world. Early in Jordan's season at Double-A Birmingham, Rangers pitching instructor Tom House said: "He is attempting to compete with hitters who have seen 350,000 fastballs in their pro lives and 204,000 breaking balls. … But I’m not going to give up. He went back to the NBA instead while the White Sox had to cancel the 1994 season thanks to the player strike. But he's not exactly tearing up Double-A, and that's light years from the big leagues. ", a recent edition of the Baseball Tonight podcast, Jerry Krause's White Sox tenure meant "he had a hand in seven championships". "I do think with another 1,000 at-bats, he would've made it,” Francona said, as quoted in this ESPN article. And if that was his only goal, there’s no doubt he would have put in the work necessary. He played for the White Sox during the 1994 Spring Training. We made him want to play basketball again.”. His father loved baseball. Jordan nearly gave baseball a shot the previous summer. He didn’t want to be a Herb Washington type who would just steal bases and be a part-time outfielder.". But the motivation — and work — he put into becoming a better baseball player? He'll be part of our 25-man team.
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