In 1993, Michael Jordan retired from the NBA during his prime to go and play baseball professionally. Jordan returned to NBA two years after having playing for the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. After this week's episode of The Last Dance, fans asked 'Was Michael Jordan good at baseball?' since the Chicago Bulls legend left to play baseball without any professional experience when he was 30.
Was Michael Jordan good at baseball? As per Baseball Reference, Jordan finished the 1994 season with the Barons with a .202/.289/.266 slash line, three home runs, 51 RBI, 30 stolen bases, 51 walks and 114 strikeouts in 497 plate appearances. While stats like those are not considered impressive, Jordan's speed and athleticism helped him finish with 30 steals in spite of getting on base less than 30% of the time. CBS Sports observed that while Jordan played in the Arizona Fall League, he enjoyed a batting average of .252 with five extra-base hits and six steals.
Happy 55th birthday to this 2-sport athlete, Michael Jordan! pic.twitter.com/BgS9OppN0n— MLB (@MLB) February 17, 2018
After two years of playing baseball, reports have concluded his career with the Barons to be a failure. Mike Bertotti, while playing with the Barons alongside Jordan, used to ask manager Terry Francona to move the six-time NBA champion to the left-field as he could not prevent runners from advancing to third. His teammate Barry Johnson revealed that while he might not have played well, he did his best to improve.
Johnson stated that with the amount of work Jordan was putting in, he could have ended up with a big league team. Francona also added that with more 1000 at-bats, Jordan would have made it to the big league. However, he added that baseball helped Jordan rediscover himself, making him return to basketball.
One of Chris Landers' articles on Jordan was called 'MJ's baseball career wasn't the failure you think', as the Bulls legend managed to play adequately while 'showing off impressive skills on the basepaths' though he had not played since high school. Jordan even got to play at the iconic Wrigley Field in an exhibition game between White Sox and the Chicago Cubs. When Jordan returned to the NBA, all he said was 'I'm back'. He played three more seasons for the Bulls, winning them three more championships.