Michael Jordan has loved baseball since childhood.
Most famously, he retired from the Bulls in 1993 to play professional baseball. In 1994, he joined the Birmingham Barons – the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, who were owned by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
Then-Oakland Athletics general manager Sandy Alderson on Baseball Tonight, via Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago:
“When I heard that was happening, or about to happen, I called his agent right away and said, ‘Hey look, I understand he may be going to Double-A. I don’t even know who the 25th man is on our major league team right now, I will sign him and put him on the major league roster. He’ll be part of our 25-man team. Tomorrow.'”
“It wasn’t about, ‘We’ve got a spot for him, he’s got a particular skill,'” Alderson told Olney. “That wasn’t the idea. The idea was, ‘We’ve got Michael Jordan on our team’ and the interest that would have generated.”
Jordan’s agent, David Falk, via Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com:
“I was excited about [the offer], and Michael was very appreciative,” Falk said. “But he wanted to do the baseball thing from the ground up. He didn’t feel he deserved a spot on the Major League roster and didn’t feel he was ready. He didn’t want to be a Herb Washington type who would just steal bases and be a part-time outfielder.”
“Michael’s an amazingly loyal guy,” Falk said. “If not for his relationship with the White Sox, [the A’s offer] might have been something he might have done.”
Considering how long it’d been since he played baseball, Jordan was actually relatively good for Birmingham. Maybe – probably not, but maybe – he actually could have worked himself into a legitimate major-league player. Or at least more legitimate.
Instead, Jordan returned to the Bulls and continued a dynasty.
Who knows how that would have gone if Jordan began his baseball career in the majors? Maybe he would’ve played longer. Maybe, with even more attention on him, he would have burned out on professional sports entirely. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where he would’ve spent more time with the Bulls – only less or the same amount.
Also, what a brutal line from Alderson: “I don’t even know who the 25th man is on our major league team right now.” That’s worse than what Jordan used to tell Scott Burrell.