Michael Jordan’s journey from the basketball court to the baseball diamond

Michael Jordans journey from the basketball court to the baseball diamond

When you think back on some of the greats in basketball, you think about Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Shaquille O’Neal, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Charles Barkley, and many more. But if you read this list, what you are missing is probably the biggest player of all time: Michael Jordan. With his extremely impressive basketball career, we often overthink the other parts of his life; one of the biggest parts of his sports career, though, was when he decided to play baseball for the Chicago White Sox as a change of pace. 

Like I said before, Michael Jordan was most well known for his highly successful career in basketball, but basketball wasn’t his preferred professional sport. Michael always had the dream of playing in the MLB, and when he retired from basketball on October 6, 1994, he sent the sports press into a frenzy when he announced he would be switching to baseball to honor his father, who had recently been murdered in the summer of 1993. His father’s passing wasn’t the only factor, considering that his basketball passion was starting to fade during this time. However, it was a contributing factor.

As a durable 30-year-old, Michael was in his prime to make the change and commit to his dream if he was earnest about playing. On February 7, 1994, a year after he initially considered the move to the baseball diamond, Michael officially signed to play for the Chicago White Sox’s Double-A affiliate, the Birmingham Barons. This move worked out in his favor due to the Chicago Bulls and the White Sox both being owned by Jerry Reinsdorf at the time. 

No one really knew what to expect when Michael decided to play baseball due to him being new to the sport, but what he did next shocked everyone. The first time he went to practice with a pitcher, Jerry Krause told the pitcher not to worry about where the balls went because he thought, ‘Surely Michael wouldn’t hit it past the infield on his first day, right?’ Well, Jerry was proven very wrong when Michael blasted a ball straight into a couple sitting in the “clear.” Following this impressive act, Michael went 2-for-5 in the big Windy City Classic exhibition game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. 

Although Michael only played through the regular season for the Birmingham Barons, his achievements were plentiful nonetheless. Michael had 30 stolen bases, 46 runs scored, 3 home runs, and 497 plate appearances. Those stats might be a little low, but for the Barons, who normally weren’t in the spotlight, it was a breath of fresh air.

The question of whether or not he should have played pro baseball was one that had a lot of controversy surrounding it, mainly because he was new to the sport and didn’t have the extensive background that most of his professional teammates had. So should Michael have played for the in MLB? I personally think he should have played pro for the Chicago White Sox. The only way I could see him doing this is if he took another season or two to really structure his foundation of the sport. I feel that if he put the effort and years of practice into baseball the same way he did with basketball, he would have no problem keeping up in the big leagues; Michael was so athletic and capable in his prime that as long as he got the time to practice and solidify his skills, there probably wouldn’t have been a sport that he couldn’t have picked up—besides maybe football.

Michael’s sheer athletic ability commanded respect wherever he traveled; he is an athlete that will never be forgotten and is one of the greatest of all time. Whether he was on the basketball court or fighting for a spot on the Chicago White Sox, there are no doubts about how talented he was and how hard he worked for his goals. No matter what anyone says at the end of the day, and minor league baseball aside, the one thing I will never forget is his one game on the White Sox against the Cubs when he went 2-for-5 and blew us all away. Michael will never leave the sports scene, and there is no other person more deserving of the “GOAT” title than him.