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Home > People > Michael Jordan Switches to Baseball

Michael Jordan Switches to Baseball

This article tells about Michael Jordan's baseball career with the Birmingham Barons/

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G.O.A.T Burnout

Michael Jordan, well-known as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, always dreamed of playing major-league baseball. And thus, in 1994, the three-time NBA champion and MVP decided to take a break from the sport to pursue his lifelong dream of baseball. It had been a tough year for Michael. Between the grind and rigors of an extended basketball season, and the recent murder of his father, Michael was burnt out and needed a new challenge. The 31 year-old basketball legend would start off with the Chicago White Sox AA minor-league affiliate team known as the Birmingham Barons. He'd be coached by future big-league manager Terry Francona.

New Horizons and Challenges

While many saw it as a publicity stunt, Jordan was "dead serious" about baseball according to his hitting coach Walt Hriniak. He was usually the first person to arrive at practice in the morning and the last to leave. Although he was a good ball player as a kid, he had to learn to throw a ball correctly, hit different kinds of pitches, and play defense at a high level. Furthermore, he had to get used to a much less glamorous life than he was used to. Minor league baseball players don't travel on private jets or stay in luxury hotels, although Michael was able to procure a luxury bus for his teammates. Despite the vast differences between being an NBA superstar and a minor-league baseball player, Michael was reportedly an excellent teammate who would sign autographs and memorabilia for all of his starstruck teammates, and for the thousands of fans who now flocked to Birmingham to see him play baseball. Minor league baseball stadiums rarely achieve sellouts, but whether in Birmingham, or, in other stadiums, Michael's Barons always sold out.

The Potential was There

Michael's baseball career was short-lived. Although he batted a mere .202, which would be considered a very low average, he stole 30 bases and drove in 51 runs during the summer of 1994. Some of his teammates and coaches believed that Michael could have possibly progressed to the Major Leagues. We will never know, of course, but during the summer of 1994, Michael left a strong impression. According to his coach, Terry Francona, " He respected the game. I love the guy. And I don’t love the guy just in the press. I love the guy. I respect him. I appreciate how he handled everything.”

Back to Hoops

With talk of an impending strike in Major League Baseball, Michael decided to return to basketball for the 1994-1995 season. He'd pick up right where he left, and would lead the Chicago Bulls to three more championships.



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