[Adam Shemesh, one of the best writers on the great game of baseball, weighs in with a pitch perfect piece on Tim Tebow and his foray into baseball. September is a great month where we have both baseball at its highest point of regular season drama and football (both CFB and NFL) kicking off. Adam gives us not just football and baseball, but even a little bit of b-ball too with a look at Michael Jordan’s unsuccessful efforts at a second bite at the professional sports apple.]
Earlier this week, Tim Tebow held a tryout for Major League clubs as he attempts to comeback to a sport that he has not played since high school. While he probably cannot contribute to any MLB club, Tebow will certainly provide at least a boost in minor league ticket sales. In honor of Tebow’s attempt, we look back at Michael Jordan’s futile try to swing the stick.
It is the fall of 1993. Michael Jordan is a young player, sporting #45, at the top of his sport. He has already won three NBA titles and has been named MVP three times. Shockingly, he calls it quits on October 3, citing a lack of interest in the game and his father’s death as reasons for stepping down from the game it seemed he was ready to take over.
In January of the next year, Michael decides that he will be playing baseball in ‘94. He insists that he is for real, not just a publicity stunt. Looking back at this infamous moment in his career, Jordan remembers, “All of a sudden I felt like a kid again.” Jerry Reinsdorf, who owned the Bulls and White Sox at the time, convinces Michael to come to the south side and gives him an invite to spring training.This is quite the courageous move by His Airness- remember, Jordan retired at the top of basketball and is now fighting for a roster spot with the Sox.
Current big league stars are appalled. Randy Johnson snickers, “”I’d like to see how much air time he’d get on one of my inside pitches.” Michael feels very humbled and replies, “I’m really trying to learn this game.” Fans come out in droves for his contests in the Spring. Michael first reaches base in the 6th game of his career and is mobbed by teammates after scoring. Alas, he eats another piece of humble pie by being optioned to Double-A Birmingham following spring training.
Jordan’s baseball career was short-lived. After one year at Double-A, he went back to basketball- this time cementing his legacy as #23. While I’m not trying to take anything away from Jordan, this piece goes to show that being simply an athlete does not cut it in baseball. The next time anyone claims how easy baseball seems, let them know that the greatest athlete of the 80s couldn’t make it out of the minors.