Happy Birthday Mike!
We here at the South Side Showdown would be remiss if we did not give sports icon Michael Jordan a happy birthday. As the superstar and current owner of the Charlotte Bobcats turns 49-years-old let’s not forget about his brief stint in the White Sox minor league system.
For those who don’t know or can’t remember, Jordan retired from the NBA in October of 1993 just months after the Bulls won their third title in a row and the brutal death of his father. Jordan later made headlines when he signed a minor league contract with the White Sox in the Spring of 1994. Jordan always made clear his love for the game of baseball and thought it was the perfect opportunity to honor his father by playing the game he always envisioned his son playing.
Many might now know Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf honored Jordan’s basketball contract while he was in the Sox minor league system. Jordan played for the Sox Double-A affiliate Birmingham Barons. He batted .202 with three home runs, 51 RBI, 30 stolen bases and 11 errors while playing in the outfield. He also appeared in the Arizona Fall League with the Scottsdale Scorpions where he hit .252.
Jordan’s time with the White Sox was controversial and polarizing in the sports world. Basketball fans were upset the greatest player would walk away to try his hand at baseball at the height of his career. Members of the media jumped all over him as he traveled cross country to various minor league sites. In March of 1994, Sports Illustrated came out with one of their most famous covers ever. A picture of Jordan swinging through a pitch in a Sox uniform with the headline “Bag it Micheal!”
His baseball career was brief. On March 18, 1995 Jordan announced his return to the NBA with through a two word press release faxed around the country: “I’m Back.” Jordan still honored his White Sox roots by wearing #45 with the Bulls. The same number he wore as a member of the Barons. Happy Birthday Mike, and thanks for the memories.